By Nate Antetomaso, Manager, Media and Partnerships, IZEA
Many are making their lists and checking them twice. With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s only natural to wonder how the pandemic may shape the period that’s arguably the most profitable time of the year for CPG and retail.
After all, COVID-19 has certainly shaken things up already in the retail world. IZEA Worldwide, Inc., the operator of IZEAx, an online marketplace that connects publishers and brands with influencers and content creators, has conducted surveys throughout the pandemic that reflect the uptick in demand for e-commerce and changing consumption behavior as we adapted to restrictions.
As we look to the fall and winter holidays, more than 70% of Americans report they're expecting to change their holiday traditions, according to data from Morning Consult. Roughly 47% of people are considering canceling holiday get-togethers, while most people plan to downsize significantly.
For retailers and marketers alike, these data points underscore just how changeable consumer behaviors are and just how uncertain the upcoming holidays are for everyone. That said, there are four strategies that might help CPG companies navigate the path forward.
Prioritize Promotions for an Extended Shopping Season
The National Retail Federation's 2020 Holiday Planning Survey delivered a key insight that CPG companies need to prepare for the holiday shopping season. Of the participants surveyed, 74% said that they believe consumers will spread their shopping out over several months, making it a longer holiday season than 2019. What does that mean for you? Starting promotions early.
Many shoppers are looking for deals to help them make their season merry and bright. Aggressive promotion strategies, including incentives to size up or buy multiples, like “buy four, get two,” are great holiday opportunities. Research shows that many consumers are driven to choose brands based on promotions that they learn about before shopping or making a list. The most successful CPG companies this holiday season will find a way to make it onto those shopping lists — and promotions are a driving force.
The CPG industry is increasingly tasked with engaging more with consumers. A big part of what consumers are looking for from brands is personalization. Sending personalized content and offers — both directly to consumers and through the retailers you work with — can motivate buyers to make purchases.
Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience
In-store or online, shopping should be easy and fun, and seamless on any device. Particularly this year, more people are shopping online for the first time, many for products they'd otherwise buy in stores. From the time customers enter your website or use your app until they unbox their products, the experience should be smooth and frictionless. To help deliver that, consider ideas like these:
- Optimize Your Website: Website optimization allows easy, seamless viewing and shopping on any device. Upgrade as needed to handle extra holiday traffic.
- Build Brand Authority: Use your online presence not just to promote products, but also to provide expert advice, guides and insider tips to build authenticity and authority.
- Create a Strong Online Presence: Creating your own online groups around specific subjects or product results can increase engagement and help people get familiar with the brand and products organically.
- Maintain an Accurate Inventory: Customers should be able to clearly determine what is and isn’t available.
- Make Returns Stressless: Create a policy and ensure that it's on your website for all to see. Free returns and an easy return process both score points among consumers, enhancing the overall experience.
Give People Something to Look Forward To
CPG companies and marketers are in a unique position to use products to transform a potentially challenging holiday season into an eagerly anticipated season. Even for those who aren’t having a difficult time, 2020 is bound to be a year of new traditions. Smaller gatherings, an increase in at-home celebrations and a decrease in dining out leave many brands focusing on in-home entertainers, cooks and those with disrupted holiday plans.
For inspiration, consider the example that Idahoan dished out, highlighting the convenience and quality of the product and its ability to provide holiday-worthy results in a fraction of the time. The brand is using eye-catching videos to engage cooks and people looking to entertain while relieving concerns with prepackaged potatoes. At the same time, the CPG innovator is using consumer data from retail and other sources to better connect with consumers, offering how-to and DIY videos, recipes and flavor pairing suggestions.
The future isn’t certain, but the holiday season is sure to be joyful if you’re able to stay flexible and meet consumer needs by delivering great service, excellent value and the safety that shoppers crave.