Each year during the holiday shopping season, brands vie for the attention of shoppers across the globe. While much of this engagement includes traditional advertising like ads and print, experiential marketing has long been many brands’ secret to succeeding in the holiday market share game. Holiday brand activation is one of the best ways to engage holiday shoppers. It can be as simple as featuring makeup artists at the beauty counter and as elaborate as full Christmas experiences that include fake snow, Santa, gift wrapping, giveaways, and activities.
But, as we all know, 2020 is writing a different story. Many brand marketers are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how this year’s experiential campaigns will take shape due to the virus. How will retailers and brands encourage purchase, trial, and engagement? Will they still be able to use brand experiences to stand out from the competition?
According to a Google survey, half of the American consumers will shop differently this holiday season due to the pandemic. However, fortunately for retailers, this doesn’t mean that holiday gift-givers will be spending less money or avoiding stores altogether. In fact, seventy percent of shoppers intend to start shopping earlier to avoid crowds, and over sixty percent are planning to shop locally.
While COVID-19 has altered how we shop, people still desire the lifestyle we all enjoyed before the pandemic hit. As consumers adjust to masks and social distancing, retail can also adjust to provide an engaging experience without risking the health and safety of its customers.
Consider the following ideas to engage holiday shoppers, encourage a positive customer experience, and ensure a profitable holiday season.
With COVID-19 restrictions, people are generally traveling less and relying on their local community more. Studies have also shown that outdoor activities can pose less of a risk. The solution for brands seeking to engage with shoppers face-to-face? Outdoor pop-up shops.
In what was mostly appearing in metro areas, pop-ups are now showing up in rural areas too. No matter where you are meeting consumers, an engaging outdoor shopping experience can be transformative and provide consumers with a richer experience than could be accomplished inside the store. These can take place on the sidewalk or in a parking lot and, in cold climates, consider providing outdoor heaters to encourage shoppers to browse longer.
Rather than make your existing employees do double duty, hiring brand ambassadors for these outdoor events allows your brand to drive additional revenue while providing an elevated brand experience. These brand ambassadors should also be trained in health and safety protocols so you are confident in their ability to keep shoppers safe, all while ensuring your employees can work inside the store and fulfill their everyday responsibilities.
Brand activations and events are still possible in the post-COVID world, brands just need to be creative and employ health and safety protocols. Brands and also execute virtual experiences, such as personalized shopping events where virtual brand ambassadors help consumers make online purchase decisions.
Hybrid events are also a great way to experience the best of both worlds. Companies like Elite Multimedia Productions are doing just that, making sure customers can still experience Santa this Christmas without worrying about social distancing restrictions. To experience Santa virtually, families sign up for an appointment time, use an iPad controller, and choose from a playlist of pre-recorded Santa videos. The setup includes an LED video wall and high-quality audio for an immersive experience. If a live event was requested, families could also speak directly to Santa through a live stream with an HD camera. Each Santa would be onsite but in an isolated space for social distancing and to help prevent streaming glitches. While Santa is an annual tradition for many families, it is also critical for retailers. A quality Santa experience brings shoppers into the stores and away from the online space, which in turn increases potential impulse purchases and overall sales.
American consumers are often persuaded by advertising during the holiday season. With the pandemic still looming, Americans are more likely to buy from companies that invest in positive advertising, safe shopping, or provide gift ideas.
When it comes to touch-free experiences, brands can stick to a few key elements to ensure a safe experience, then allow their imaginations to go from there. To eliminate contact, consider implementing the following:
You can also use health and safety trained brand ambassadors to man hand sanitizing stations, encourage social distancing, and run activities that ensure a great (and safe) time. Stores can also use a ticket system, appointment times, or email invites to comply with occupancy restrictions.
No matter how you choose to engage holiday shoppers this season, we all know one thing – providing safety and peace of mind for consumers and employees alike remains the top priority. The truth is that nearly 50% of retail workers don’t feel comfortable enforcing rules related to COVID-19. Whether you are planning a marketing campaign or just managing the crowds, having additional support related to the in-person shopping experience can make all the difference.
Elevate can match you with experienced and certified WorkSafe managers. These health and safety specialists have expert training in-line with WHO and CDC standards. Plus, they are trained to engage holiday shoppers for seamless integration. They are your best ally in keeping this holiday season as jolly as possible for everyone involved.