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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

5 marketing predictions this holiday season

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

How prepared are small businesses this winter?

For many UK businesses, 2021 is a make-or-break year. Although we've seen positive signs of recovery and growth, for one in six businesses, winter holiday sales account for the majority of turnover. 92% of businesses are concerned with the changing health conditions that could yet again require fast marketing pivots. But surely businesses are now prepared for this?

Let’s explore the latest trends and predictions for what could be a make or break year for many businesses.

1. The dual online and in-store experience

Supply issues have lead to consumers bringing their Christmas purchasing forward to guarantee the availability of their desired gifts with many retailers urging shoppers to buy gifts early given the possibility of shortages closer to Christmas Day.

Online searches for “Christmas” were higher in September 2021 than in the same period in the past 10 years, indicating shoppers are more prepared than they have ever been.

Research confirms that footfall is expected to be 17% lower than in 2019, but this would be 81% above where it was last year when much of the country was in lockdown. According to Techradar, retailers are unlikely to host large-scale events. It could be perceived as irresponsible to encourage large gatherings whilst COVID-19 infection rates are still on the increase. This could lead to consumers once again shopping in the comfort of their own homes.

There is no question, businesses are feeling better prepared for marketing this holiday season and equipped to change their plans at a moment's notice. Customer profiling and the ability to offer a dual online and in-store experiences have been instrumental.

This season is expected to once again be a digital marketing Christmas, with spend on search advertising forecast to increase by 15%, while online display advertising rises by 12.7%.

The pandemic accelerated our online buying behaviour and most smaller businesses simply didn’t have the infrastructure in place, but this holiday season has been the key milestone that so many have been working towards.

2. The adoption of cryptocurrency

There is a feeling consumers will spend more this season but they’ll participate in new schemes. One-fifth of consumers plan to use cryptocurrency to make a purchase as a gift. Three-quarters of businesses are planning to be set up for this and eager to experiment. They see this as the future.

In addition to crypto, many companies are planning further digitisation with gifts, cards, and wish lists and three quarters are planning to introduce a subscription in an attempt to increase customer loyalty. Businesses are having to fight harder to win over customers and offer more choices than ever. Today's consumers needs to feel more empowered.

3. The acceleration of AI

Operational motivations and having a true competitive edge have accelerated the use of AI. In fact, 87% of firms are using or exploring how to integrate the technology into their business. The top motivations are supply chain driven, as well as offering a more innovative experience, improving customer service and personalisation.

Watch to see how this evolves with greater usage across different channels.

4. Rapidly changing customer policies

Businesses learned the hard way last year and many had to change their outdated customer policies. 100-day refunds were rolled out and 'speed' became the deciding purchasing factor for so many of us shopping during the first national lockdown. Next-day deliveries are now expected.

However, with major supply chain issues, businesses have had to be cautious with their delivery terms this holiday season. Nearly half of businesses have already changed their customer delivery terms to address supply chain issues. Reuters have advised that standard online delivery times could extend to 10 days, with some retailers scrapping next-day delivery altogether. This will require swift marketing to manage customer expectations.

5. Transparent messaging

The pandemic has shifted our attitudes towards brands. Todays modern consumers expect authentic messaging. No cover ups or PR spins. If there are stock delays, then businesses are better to be upfront about this.

The future

There is no doubt this holiday season is an instrumental one for so many businesses in the UK. They have the dilemma of boosting short-term sales and participating in mass promotions versus balancing their brand image and reputation.

But digital brands will thrive again this winter. The winners will be those offering a hybrid approach combining in-store and an online experience and embracing new technology.

This year we’ll start to see a different type of marketing. One which will be more considered, more sophisticated, and more discreet in terms of the targeting, message, and methods used. Let's see how it unfolds….


Springboard – Holiday marketing report

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