The first, and most important, rule of marketing for the holiday shopping season is this: start early. And this year is no exception. With financial constraints, logistical challenges, and product shortages threatening retailers, time is of the essence. Throw in the fact that consumer sentiments are rapidly shifting this year, with many remaining anxious and on high alert when it comes to both spending and making plans to celebrate this season, and it seems a recipe for disaster.

But this isn’t the time for marketers to stress. It’s the time to act. Let’s explore three tips to help marketers appropriately pivot their spend and strategy so that they can ensure this holiday season is just as magical — for both the brand and consumer — as any other.

Forget Prime Day, Cyber Monday, Black Friday. Tap Into E-Commerce Promotions Early and Often. 

Amazon Prime Day has come to be known as the unofficial start to the online holiday shopping season. Let this year’s early October start date be the only indicator needed to reinforce that this is the year to tap into e-commerce shopping strategies as a first line of defense.

Retailers are attempting to compensate for flat sales. Consumers are continuing to grapple with safety concerns when it comes to in-store shopping.

Start your e-commerce holiday promotions earlier than planned … then extend them. With big-box retailers like Walmart and Macy’s already announcing plans to escalate their own holiday sales promotions, there’s no one-stop shopping day anymore. Now is the time to start thinking through and executing on the deals and promotions that were typically reserved for Cyber Monday or Black Friday.

Understand Changing Consumer Sentiments, and Cater to the Changes

Consumers are experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions this holiday season. Some are experiencing ongoing financial hardships and feeling extra money conscious. Others are fearful of planning family get-togethers safely, and therefore feel triggered, sad or even mad at the thought of holiday shopping this year. And some still are feeling downright anxious and unsettled by all the unknowns to come in the months ahead.

Brands today have to be more customer led than ever before. They must research and understand how consumer sentiments are changing, and pivot their marketing strategies accordingly. How are marketers accounting for new safety guidelines in their stores? How are they pivoting their online strategies to target a wider audience? How are they revisiting pre-planned content? Marketers must have answers ready for all of these questions, and plans in place to properly address them. 

Don’t Neglect In-Store Marketing, But Make Sure it Fits Into the Overall Shopping Experience Consumers Will Favor This Year

MainAd research shows that by 2024, 53 percent of retail revenue will go to retailers that have a digital offering as part of their business models. If stricter lockdown measures are extended or reinstated as the pandemic continues, this could stretch to 56 percent as consumers continue to favor shopping online vs. in-store.

However, while window shopping may take a backseat to online research, shoppers will likely not avoid stores entirely this season. In fact, with logistical challenges likely to force many brands to extend delivery windows, many consumers may lean into store pickup services. With that, brand marketers should take a hard look at how they can potentially reimagine the in-store shopping experience for this year’s customers. Maybe it’s reinforcing new safety protocols; maybe it’s reconfiguring the in-store layout to feel more personalized. Whatever it is, in-store shopping isn’t dead; it cannot afford to be overlooked.

This holiday shopping season will be unorthodox, to say the least. It’s critical to remember that with every curveball, there’s always room for creativity. Marketers, stay focused, driven and flexible. Together, we will survive this next phase of “new normal.” Until then, let’s make the 2020 holiday shopping experience one for the books.