CSA Q&A: Promotions can make or break holiday success

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CSA Q&A: Promotions can make or break holiday success

By Dan Berthiaume - 10/07/2020
Michele Dupre
Michele Dupre

Retailers seeking to overcome the uncertainty of the 2020 holiday season should focus on running promotions digitally and earlier than ever.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Michele Dupre, group VP, Verizon Business Group, about how retailers can effectively respond to the unique challenges of the upcoming holiday season and end a difficult year on a positive note.

How will uncertainties around this year's holiday performance affect the timing of omnichannel promotions?
Past holiday seasons have shown that there is a direct correlation to the shift and growth of digital to the season launching earlier in November. It wasn't long ago where consumers may have thought it was absurd that Black Friday deals started the week of Thanksgiving, but now we see them starting the day the calendar turns to Nov. 1. These early November ‘sneak peeks’ serve as a kickoff to the holiday sales season.

The key to the season is the use of promotions -- and using them early and often. This year will be no exception as non-essential retailers have ground to make up and essential retailers have the opportunity to continue the momentum. Successful retailers will have an engagement strategy that meets the demands of their customer through promotions and product availability, along with offering them the ability to choose what channel works best for them.

Will traditional high-volume sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday follow historical trends this year?
The holiday season will be long, kick-off early, and push through the days leading up Christmas. Retailers will continue to drive engagement and achieve high volume sales on designated days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a heavier emphasis on digital. 

Since there will be potential limitations on crowds along with concerns around health and safety, digital will play an even larger role in driving consumer engagement and spend. Consumers will still be on the hunt for great deals from their favorite brands.

Consumer preferences for certain products and categories have shifted during the pandemic - will this affect holiday sales?
The buying trends that we have seen in the recent past, largely due to how the pandemic has shifted consumer focus to things like home improvements and activities in the home, will continue through the holidays. We expect to see categories like entertainment, home furnishing, technology, electronics, wellness, sports equipment, etc. drive much holiday sales activity.

What should retailers do to demonstrate genuine social commitment this holiday season, across channels?
Consumers are desperately looking for some level of normalcy in their lives and retailers have the opportunity to deliver some level of that this holiday season – albeit with a few changes. Health and safety is top of mind for most consumers and also retail employees. Retailers have to balance those concerns while making sure to put the customer at the center of everything they do. 

They can do this by ensuring that they offer the same fantastic promotions regardless of channel, provide options for delivery, and inspire their employees to serve as ambassadors of their brand. A balance to successfully serve customers in-store, via online chat, and/or via call centers is the winning combination of building brand loyalty now and for the foreseeable future.