Beyond the Shopping Cart: Holiday Marketing Strategy Deep-Dive with Randy Antin
From festive storefront displays to Internet ads full of seasonal cheer, come December, retailers make it known that the holidays are here. With so many options for consumers’ gift giving needs, Jumpshot’s VP of Marketing Randy Antin volunteered to make sense of all the holiday shopping madness. Having joined Jumpshot after years of working at leading retailers like Gap Inc., he has invaluable insight into the do’s and don’ts of marketing, both online and off. Read on for his tips for retailers and e-commerce marketers about how to make the most out of your customers’ shopping carts this holiday season.
What are the differences between online and offline shopping during the holidays? Are there usually more deals to be found online or offline?
During the holiday season, you can usually find better deals online rather than off due to people’s differing behavior online and in-store. Online comparative shopping is so easy that it has become the norm. On the Internet, shoppers can easily hop from one site the the next to find the best deal. Online shoppers are also more targeted in their approach – they’re usually searching for a specific item. E-tailers and e-commerce platforms know this and have adapted their strategies accordingly – they know more about human nature than you would think.
Once you’re in the store, you’re likely to get sidetracked by items you didn’t initially intend to purchase, beelining to the checkout line with more things than you anticipated buying, whether or not they’re discounted. Retailers know this, which is why they tend to heavily discount one product just to get you in the door, fully aware that your primitive gatherer instincts will come into play to help them churn a profit. While actual sales around the holidays are similar online and offline, the marketing strategies differ. For example, Williams Sonoma always sells peppermint bark around the holidays. It’s fairly inexpensive, and it’s available for in-store purchases only. The purpose of this is to bait mall-going window shoppers with the intent of persuading them to buy more items once they’re inside.
How can companies keep momentum going after the holidays once the gift shopping craze dies down?
Oftentimes, shoppers actually can get the best deals after the holidays. While it’s important for many to buy gifts for loved ones before the holidays, January is prime-time for consumers to buy stuff for themselves. In-store, you’ll get a lot of people returning gifts, giving retailers the unique opportunity to re-engage shoppers and catch their eyes with deals. Companies can really capitalize on post-holiday shopping by implementing simple return and exchange policies that work in their favor, like only offering store credit for returns, or offering online shoppers free exchanges.
What brands have been successful keeping sales momentum post-holidays in the past?
‘Fast fashion’ companies like Zara are super successful because they are able to assess what trends sold best during the holidays and turn similar items around quickly from production to the storefloor. Stores modeled like H&M and Brandy Melville are also successful – their prices are low to start with, so they don’t need to rely on discounts. These retailers have established themselves as inexpensive, ‘fast fashion’ companies, so their customers go to them regardless of the time of year.
What brands have had the most successful marketing campaigns leading up to the holidays this year? And the worst?
Any ads that effectively tug at a viewer’s heartstrings are successful around the holidays – bonus points for involving kids and whole families. Target did a great job with their video ads this year. Amazon also implemented an innovative Cyber Monday campaign that focused on re-engaging existing customers with new personalized deals every five minutes, based on their previous purchases.
In my opinion, car commercials are the worst. Every year, car companies make ads featuring their cars with a bow on top. Although I realize that this is the time of year that new cars are released to the market, I have to wonder how many people are actually gifting cars for the holidays. And of those people, how many of them wrap them up in gigantic bows? This always seems unrealistic to me.
How do marketing campaigns change according to different demographics?
Brick and mortar stores adapt their inventories according to their physical locations. For example, a retail outlet will sell more heavy jackets in New York City than in Los Angeles. Just as companies vary their inventories based on geography, they will often try to do location-based marketing campaigns, but fail when they end up getting distributed to an audience that’s too wide and varied.
For example, in a previous position, we tried to do a weather-related search ad that would tie into Weather.com – it didn’t work very well. We would display ads for raincoats if it was going to rain in a few days in a given location. Sounds good, right? Wrong. The problem was that people in that location weren’t likely to click on the ad and convert because they were most likely used to the weather and owned suitable outerwear.
Another common mistake is generalizing your target. For example creating a campaign that is tied to a pending snowstorm in Chicago, and distributing it nationally. People in California don’t care about sub-freezing temperatures in the Midwest. It’s obvious and embarrassing when targeted campaigns like that fail.
What demographics engage with marketing campaigns the most during the holidays?
Millennials and younger generations engage with ads in a different, more hands-on way than other generations. Integrated ads perform much better than standard display ads – they’re far more entertaining. Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram present ripe opportunities to engage with the coveted millennial demographic, but marketing campaigns on these apps can quickly backfire if they’re not done correctly.
For example, many fashion bloggers endorse companies on Instagram by wearing an item of clothing and tagging the brand. Though it’s usually pretty obvious that the blogger is being paid by the brand to promote their product, it feels more natural than having a sponsored post that you did not sign-up for pop up on your feed. This is just another evolution of social media etiquette and social influencers.
Bottom Line: A discount is a discount and people of all ages, genders and cultures love saving money. No matter what the discount is or how it’s being marketed, it is likely to catch the attention of people of all demographics. Retailers and e-commerce marketers are fully aware of this, but still need to adapt their online and in-store strategies to optimize their outreach, increase sales and re-engage their target after the holidays are over.