With the holidays upon us, CMOs all over the world are busy with the annual end-of-year push to connect with their target consumers, reach new audiences, build desire for their products and deliver special incentives that ultimately lead to sales.
Unfortunately, for many of these marketing pros, the song is the same as the year before and the year before that. It’s another year of “Jingle Bell Rock” for a world that’s moved on to hip-hop and EDM. Don’t know what EDM is? Ask your grandson. He’s the one playing video games because he already finished all of his holiday shopping on his smartphone last Saturday.
This is not to say that the brick-and-mortar world of Black Friday sales doesn’t exist. It most certainly does, and marketers would be foolish to ignore it. But by almost any measure, that world is shrinking. This year, Cyber Monday sales hit $9.4 billion in the U.S., a solid increase over 2018. In online sales, Black Friday saw a record $7.4 billion.
Consumers are starting to figure it out: Why wake up at 4:00 a.m. to wait in line in the cold? Some in-store Black Friday sales even turn violent, with people getting into fights and getting trampled by the crowds.
So if the trends are correct and more and more consumers are going to stay home and shop from home in the future, what’s a marketer to do? In taking a look at this year’s Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales, here are three ideas that need to be on every marketer’s radar:
Amid the constant cacophony of holiday marketing, some people are sick and tired of the rampant consumerism and holiday pressure to shop and spend. After all, aren’t the holidays about being grateful for what you have and spending time with family? For many, this wholesome message rings true. Some brands are quickly picking up on this sentiment.
This year, outdoor retailer REI closed its stores on Black Friday for the fifth year in a row. Smartly, it paired these closings with an #OptOutside social media campaign encouraging its fans to be outside doing what they love. For REI, this counterintuitive marketing effort gets loads of media coverage and wins the hearts of its target consumer, who will surely do their shopping at another date and time.
Influence new shoppers.
From Red Ryder BB Guns to Nintendo Wiis, there always seem to be a few hot gifts that everyone wants during the holiday season. How brands get to this coveted status has always been something of an inexact science. But today there’s a road map, and it’s called influencer marketing.
By leveraging the power of social media platforms, on which almost every demographic is occupied for hours a day, brands can now tap into specific influencers with a range of audiences, large and small, geo-specific and with very targeted areas of expertise: beauty/fashion, toys/gaming, automotive/luxury, etc.
Working with these influencers and winning their endorsements, will ensure that your product reaches an audience that is very likely interested in what you’re selling. When you add the “cool” factor of an influencer who intimately knows that audience and how to speak to them, you will soon have your product positioned the right way.
Invest in content marketing.
Giving consumers the hard sell isn’t the only path to conversion; sometimes it’s about having a conversation. For this, content marketing is the way to go. You can use customer data to share content that resonates with your audience and gets them to laugh, share and continue to think about your brand.
One great and recent example that sticks with me is what Spotify did with its “2018 Goals” campaign. Tapping into 70 artists featured on their platform (Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, etc.) and targeting 18 critical markets, Spotify leveraged its vast troves of consumer data to find some of the most entertaining playlists. It made consumers laugh, sure. But more importantly, it got consumers thinking about their own playlists and ideas.
In May of this year, Forbes reported that Amazon had surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer. And Walmart is moving rapidly to adapt to a world that’s steadily moving online. Marketers need to take note of these retail titans and the consumer behaviors that are driving their evolution.
There’s plenty to do, maybe more than ever, but today’s marketing demands fresh thinking and a willingness to come to consumers on their terms and to inspire them in new ways. Happy holidays!