Experts: What to expect from a pandemic holiday season

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First, look to a heavier digital shopping season

“Brands can expect to see more sales happening online and on mobile. To meet the needs of shoppers, it’s critical that marketers build convenience throughout the customer journey. Using mobile messaging and push notifications can help marketers stay in step with mobile shoppers. Additionally, tapping into Facebook and Instagram’s in-app shopping features can eliminate friction for shoppers who are ready to buy and want to make purchases within native social environments,” said Raquel Rosenthal, CEO, Digilant.

DISQO’s Anne Hunter agrees, and suggests that merchants begin planning now for longer shipping times and improving handling measures.

“Without as much in-store traffic, the drama of seasonal displays will be missed, but creative retailers are applying new techniques like custom-printed shipping boxes that recreate some of the visual excitement of the holidays,” said Hunter, Head of Product Marketing, DISQO. “Budgets are being adjusted now based on the results of fall media to drive into stores. In addition to the pandemic, brands are dealing with massive U.S. unemployment that will likely dampen the overall sales volume. Smart marketers need to create a reason to spend through persuasive advertising or offer products right-sized for the current economic environment to earn gift sales when budgets are tight.”

Second, adjust strategy to improve the digital experience

“Marketers should focus on creating positive digital experiences, particularly on mobile. Brands that pull people away from doomscrolling and into positive, enriching experiences are poised to do well this holiday season. To achieve this, of course, marketers must listen to what people are saying about their apps and pay attention to the emotional response generated by their messages and campaigns,” said Barbie Koelker, VP of Marketing, Spiketrap.

“Brands and marketers must identify ways to incorporate more service or assisted sales support into the shopping experience than has been done before in e-commerce channels. While automated chatbots and reminder emails have been shown to be proven sales drivers, now more than ever, brands need to understand the online shopping journey to address the pain points that have been created due to the lack of ability or interest in visiting retail locations for their shopping needs. Effectively addressing the pain points and moving the shopping ‘game’ from being all about offering the lowest price to one of delivering the best overall value for money will separate the winners from the losers (and preserve revenue) this holiday season,” said Lisa Marie Fortier, SVP, ENGINE Insights.

Third, look to CTV to connect

“Brands should focus on omnichannel and how it can amplify CTV and digital as both of these channels have been bombarded by so many brands. This includes integrating addressable TV and targeted OOH with direct mail. As people continue to work from home, the OOH platforms that can penetrate neighborhoods in tandem with a concerted direct mail campaign can make Facebook and other digital platforms perform higher. For example, a brand could advertise on gig-delivery vehicles, use PebblePost to target that neighborhood’s mailboxes and also use the audience from the OOH exposure to trigger CTV and other forms of digital,” said James Heller, CEO & Co-Founder, Wrapify.

“Connected TV (CTV) will be more important than ever this year – specifically due to the consumption that continues to increase, and was expedited, due to homebound viewers during COVID-19. Activating on CTV can help brands build market share, get their promotions out quickly and garner interactivity. It’s likely that we’ll continue to see Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) brands lean into CTV as a way to build credibility as a trustworthy new entrant in market,” said Stephanie Scheper, VP of Sales & Head of Retail, TremorVideo.



Kristina Knight is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience writing on varied topics. Kristina’s focus for the past 10 years has been the small business, online marketing, and banking sectors, however, she keeps things interesting by writing about her experiences as an adoptive mom, parenting, and education issues. Kristina’s work has appeared with, NBC News,, DisasterNewsNetwork, and many more publications.