Holiday Marketing 2023: What Retailers Need to Know When Planning Seasonal Campaigns

09.13.2023 Sara Brasfield4 min

Fears of a recession haven’t quite come to fruition, but consumer confidence remains wary: according to a survey from the U.S. Federal Reserve, many consumers are preparing to scale back their spending in the coming months, including for the 2023 holiday season.

While this pullback is relatively minor, it underscores the challenges some retailers will face in attracting holiday shoppers in the months ahead. With this shaken consumer confidence, retailers can also expect consumer shopping behavior and preferences to be different this year than in years’ past.

As you plan your holiday marketing and advertising campaigns, these trends are important to track. Here’s what every retailer needs to know as the holiday shopping season approaches in full force.

Holiday Advertising Campaigns Have Already Begun

The recent trend of holiday creep continues: According to one recent consumer survey, nearly one-quarter of shoppers (24 percent) began their holiday shopping in August or earlier.

This sprawling holiday shopping season is being driven by both retailers and consumers alike. For retailers, an earlier holiday season provides more runway to move inventory that didn’t sell the previous year. It’s also a case of the early bird trying to catch the worm: by getting the jump on retail competition, those businesses are hoping to increase their share of holiday sales.

Consumers, meanwhile, are more price-conscious than in years’ past when planning their holiday spending, so an earlier holiday season gives them more time to sniff out the best deals. And after supply chain issues affecting retail inventories in recent years, it’s possible some shoppers are eager to get ahead on their shopping after getting burned in the past.

The bottomline: it’s never too early to launch your holiday marketing campaigns. If you aren’t already set with your holiday advertising strategy, it’s time to finalize those campaigns.

Brick-and-Mortar Faces an Uphill Battle

Physical retailers enjoyed a surge of shopping activity after the start of the pandemic, peaking with an impressive holiday season in 2021. But brick-and-mortar sales growth slowed in 2022, and it’s expected to slow even further in 2023.

Given the prior surge, this decline is more a product of the physical retail market normalizing after an outlier year in 2021. Still, brick-and-mortar sales growth is expected to increase by only 2.8 percent year-over-year—far less than the 11.9 percent growth projected for ecommerce sales, and trailing total retail growth at 4.5 percent.

This trend is far from a death sentence for physical retail, though. Instead, local retailers can give in-store traffic and sales a boost through holiday marketing strategies that highlight the store’s proximity to consumers as well as in-demand services such as flexible payment and pickup options, as well as other services elevating your customer experience.

Explore holiday advertising ideas that let you showcase the unique features of your in-store experience. Personal shoppers, selfie walls, product bundling and in-store events could all be highlighted in your ad creative to attract holiday shoppers to your store.

Competitive Pricing is Key to Driving Fourth-Quarter Sales

What motivates holiday shoppers to buy? The answer can change from year to year based on consumer confidence in the economy, inflation, supply chain stability, and competition on the retail market.

This year, consumers are eager to score deals. A recent survey found that 69 percent cited discounted prices as the top motivator when considering a purchase—far ahead of product quality and buying convenience at 56 and 41 percent, respectively.

Notably, 80 percent of consumers said they would consider trying a new brand or store based on the retailer’s prices. This is a clear holiday marketing opportunity for local retailers: if you’re eager to convert new customers and grow your share of holiday sales, promotional discounts and other competitive pricing strategies need to be emphasized in your advertising and marketing creative.

Efficient pricing in early stages of the holiday shopping season, as well as product bundles, rewards programs and other value-based strategies, should also be highlighted to show how your customers can get more bang for their buck.

Local Delivery Service Could Influence Online Shoppers

Shipping and product accessibility is always a focal point in the battle between in-store and online retailers. As digital retail giants build out supply chains to support faster shipping, local businesses can keep competitive by offering their own delivery and fulfillment services to win over impatient shoppers.

When planning delivery and fulfillment services, cost must be considered. Compared to 2022, this year’s shoppers are more likely to have their purchasing decisions influenced by delivery costs: while 27 percent cited the cost of delivery as an important factor in 2022, that figure has increased to 32 percent for the 2023 holiday season.

Speed of delivery and convenience also rank high when influencing customer purchases. Even if your business also maintains an ecommerce presence, you could increase holiday market share for your brand by leveraging your physical location and exploring same-day fulfillment and delivery—even as a seasonal benefit to your customers.

As your business enters the final months of the calendar year, holiday advertising is your best tool to acquire new customers, boost revenues, and end the year on a strong note. A digital advertising partner can help you plan, create and launch holiday ad campaigns aligned with these retail goals.

The holiday shopping season has already begun, so there’s no time to delay. Contact us today to get started.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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