The 2019 holiday shopping season is set to be one for the books. This is not only in total spending, which is expected to grow 3.8 to 4.2 percent over last year. Online sales are estimated to hit $143.7 billion – a 14 percent increase above 2018. Considering a consumer poll from last season, the jump should come as no surprise. Holiday shopping is a huge source of stress. Near one-third of people dread the crowds while 16 percent fret over “finding the right gift.” But, the good news is, more than half of Americans still believe the holidays to be “more fun than stressful.” This gives brands plenty of opportunity to reduce the stress and add to the merriment. It’s possible with the best Christmas experiential marketing.
While online shopping is lucrative, not everyone will reap the rewards. Consider that 76 percent of people will decide to buy from another retailer after doing online research. And retailers don’t only need to keep shoppers on their site – first they’ll need to get them there. And, it’s not cheap – ad bids can rise by 140 percent during the holiday season. Sure, some brands pay the price and get the initial sale. But, what impact does that have on the customer lifetime value? Can these brands be sure they’ll win the second sale or the third?
Contrary, experiential marketing, “when done right”, is said to have “a positive effect on the customer lifetime value.”Not only that, brands also maximize their marketing investment because these customers “share their impression” and spread the word. This is true for all brands – whether online, physical retailers, or manufacturers – that wish to make emotional connections. And, in the case of any Christmas experiential marketing campaign, a little fun and a lot of ease can go a long way.
With 2019’s shorter holiday shopping season, it’s time for marketers to check their list twice to ensure delivery of the best Christmas experiential marketing campaign.
When Wayfair planned its holiday pop-up shops, there were many things the online retailer wanted to achieve. Its biggest aim was to gather intel on consumers. Still, it sought to make personal connections and, of course, get in on the year’s greatest spending spree. The latter is the ultimate goal for all brands. But, marketers know they must be more calculated to make the right impression. Kohl’s, for example, will again host a pop-up shop in Manhattan, where it has no permanent stores. There, shoppers can “step into” interactive windows showcasing new product lines or sip ‘mocktails’ in the Outfit Bar. The goal is to draw influencers who can boost social media awareness and the brand’s investment.
Meanwhile, others realize the opportunity increased traffic provides for increasing brand awareness. So they make their best Christmas experiential marketing plan accordingly. Such was the case for Atom Tickets during the 2017 holiday season. The online movie ticketing service activated a pop-up theater in JFK airport. Thanksgiving travelers could step out of the airport’s hustle and bustle, watch movies, enjoy free popcorn and candy, and win prizes. Event staff guided visitors through the experience to ensure a stress-free experience, one of relaxation and fun.
Abercrombie & Fitch will join the ranks of holiday pop-up shops this year. But, it’s making targeted moves on its mobile tour to appeal to people in California, NYC, and beyond. To do so, A&F will offer apparel specific to its stops at hotels in popular destinations – Los Angeles and Brooklyn. This is while showing local programming as part of its digital content series and hosting “destination-inspired shopping events.” The brand’s market-specific approach helps it to be more authentic. And while it may feel out of the norm since many experiential tactics go for nostalgia this time of year, some customer segments will welcome the strategy.
A Good Housekeeping article highlights some of the reasons people “hate Christmas .”Among them are its cliche practices, deeming the season “stale” – less fun and more of a burden. So when planning your best Christmas experiential marketing, think of the ways your target attendees may de-stress or have fun. For example, L.L. Bean offered activities that could appeal to anyone in the family at its “Northern Lights Experience.” Among them were yoga and adventure walks. And while there was no shortage of holiday spirit this activation, brands should be strategic to mesh their activities with any holiday theme so that it makes sense.
Another consideration for Christmas experiential marketing campaigns is how to incorporate cause marketing. The holidays signal a time for people to give back, with nearly one-third of all donations made in December. Many brands will take the opportunity to give a portion of sales to charity. Yet, monetary donations aren’t the only way to resonate with younger generations who identify as activists. Marketing to Gen Z and millennials at Christmas can include swapping discounts for used plastic or canned goods or hosting activities that benefit the environment or underserved.
Holiday hiring was “set to hit a multiyear high” last year. And based on holiday spending estimates, one should expect the same in 2019. Yet, even with consumers sure to share the wealth, hiring seasonal employees shouldn’t be done in haste. A notice for seasonal hiring for American Eagle and Aerie, for example, cites a need for “brand ambassadors.” And, the company expects these individuals to “acquire new skills and take on meaningful responsibilities.” Among them are “guest engagement” and “product expertise.” They’re not warm bodies there to fulfill simple tasks. It shows the role of people on the front lines of consumer engagement has never held greater weight than now when working to fulfill brands’ goals.
Like the need to keep shoppers on your website, your experiential staff will carry out your Christmas experiential marketing plan and ensure people are stress-free and happy. At the same time, they may need more than a great personality and ability to keep visitors engaged. They will need skills, whether sampling alcoholic beverages or helping with virtual reality. Their aptitude in any endeavor results in transparency. And this gives your brand credibility and helps justify their spend both now and later. Your ability to build trust, while providing a fun or relaxing time, in what is otherwise for half of people, can not only win you best Christmas experiential marketing. Brands that do it right can win lifetime customers.
At Elevate, we have all the experiential staff you need to win best Christmas experiential marketing. Let our brand ambassadors, product specialists, and promo staff deliver a fun, stress-free experience to win consumers.