With over 3 million retail brands in the US alone, there’s more competition than ever before when it comes to consumers’ holiday spending. Beyond product and price, how can retailers position themselves to win this holiday season? FRCH Design Worldwide’s Emily Hamilton shares her top tips.
By Emily Hamilton
1. Go where your consumers are
The holiday season is the time for visits from the in-laws, annual planning at the office, and over-committing to holiday open-houses … now layer on last-minute shopping and the to-do list can seem daunting to any individual. Today’s retailers need to create convenient experiences where their shoppers are. Recently, Rent The Runway announced its partnership with WeWork, offering convenient drop-offs and pop-ups at select WeWork locations. Retailers need to find opportunities to activate their brands in the environments where their shoppers already spend time, to create more seamless brand engagement and effortless convenience for their consumers.
2. Think short term
Consumers today are comfortable with temporary—from Snapchat to Airbnb, the thrill of exclusivity is greater than our need for commitment. Retailers need to become comfortable with this notion as well. How brands activate the holidays this year, doesn’t necessarily need to be repeatable, and in many cases, it shouldn’t. Retailers should find short-term activations of their brand that bring to life the holiday season—from gingerbread pop-ups to ice skating rinks, offer consumers unique and temporary experiences that they will remember long after the holiday season.
3. Stand out from the crowd
While there’s no universal solution, brands need to identify both unique and authentic opportunities during the holiday season to stand out from the masses. Whether it’s through the artistic craftsmanship of a one-of-a-kind window display or a buzz-worthy Instagram filter, consumers today expect more from the brands they shop. When looking for a hook, don’t underestimate the ability of programming to fit the needs and wants of your guest. From cooking class to fashion inspiration, shoppers are looking for brands to play the role of the expert.
4. Rethink BOPIS
The buy online, pick-up in-store acronym has already become outdated, rather it should encourage consumers to buy ANYWHERE—mobile, in-store, online, on tv, in a catalogue—and then give the consumer as many fulfillment opportunities as the brand can support. That being said, the holidays are not a time when retailers should roll out a fresh BOPIS offering that has not been adequately stress-tested. A negative experience is going to taint a consumer’s brand perception far longer than a positive one.
5. Be human
With the rise of Gen Z consumers, it’s important for brands not to forget their roots. Authenticity is more important to Gen Z than preceding generations, so it’s important for brands to celebrate their core values and find ways to activate those during the holiday season for messaging that stays true to the brand. From REI’s #OptOutside to Macy’s #Believe, retailers can create more compelling stories when the message matches their brand and feels genuine.
This holiday season retailers should step away from the clearance stickers and put down the coupons. Focus on providing a seamless experience that celebrates unexpected or meaningful moments that consumers will remember all year long.
Emily Hamilton is director of brand marketing at FRCH Design Worldwide.