fbpx

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

by | Jul 19, 2021 | Public Relations

Shopping is ramping up as the COVID crisis recedes, but many brands are still way behind the ball when it comes to recouping the damage done over the last 16 months—4 out of 10 (41 percent) marketers strongly agree that this holiday season is a make-or-break opportunity for their business, but only 21 percent feel completely prepared for it, reveals new research from digital experience management firm Sitecore

With the 2020 holiday season marred by austerity, health concerns, and shipping delays, the firm’s new report serves as a wake-up call for brands that are not yet thinking about the holidays—and are running out of time.

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

Make-or-break holiday season

Of marketers with a brick-and-mortar presence, 60 percent are making it an experiential destination this year, while 49 percent feel the 2021 holiday season is the last chance to prove the value of their store. Meanwhile, 65 percent of marketers think that digitally native e-commerce brands will win the holiday season.

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

Marketers will embrace new ways to boost customer engagement

Nine out of 10 (91 percent) marketers are likely to enhance VR/AI offerings by year’s end. With third-party cookies phasing out, 51 percent of marketers are increasing the value of discounts and other services offered to consumers in exchange for their data. And 74 percent of marketers plan to introduce a subscription content program to boost customer engagement this holiday season.

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

Dark days for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions

Only 60 percent of brands plan a Black Friday promotion, down 17 percent from last year. A whopping 85 percent of marketers are using the pandemic to “reset” Black Friday sales practices—80 percent feel that Black Friday has become outdated and associated negatively with consumer culture.

Three-quarters (76 percent) will limit Black Friday promotions to the lone weekend on the calendar, out of fear of devaluing their brand and reducing consumer spend all year long, while 78 percent of marketers say Cyber Monday is no longer “a thing” for their business.

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

Earlier, longer shopping season

A third (34 percent) of consumers say they intend to start holiday shopping by Labor Day, so 53 percent of marketers are planning their campaigns to start earlier this year than last, and 53 percent added more domestic or local suppliers, to mitigate supply chain challenges. Nearly all marketers (91 percent) are optimistic of a revenue boost this holiday season.

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

Changing health conditions/regulations—and inflation—are top concerns

Nearly all marketers (95 percent) are concerned with changing health conditions/regulations impacting holiday performance, while 93 percent are concerned about inflation having an impact.

“Retail sales were challenging all last year, especially during the critical holiday season. With attitudes around big events like Black Friday changing, the industry now needs to move quickly to connect with their most loyal customers as they plan to begin holiday shopping much earlier this year,” said Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill, in a news release. “The right technology should showcase those promotions that will incentivize early holiday spending and get customers excited to engage with the brand and their products. The pull through to the in-store experience will be equally critical so consumers feel connected to the brand no matter where they choose to shop.”

Season of reckoning: 4 in 10 brands say the 2021 holidays will make or break their business

As marketers prepare for this unprecedented holiday season, they need to understand where their customers’ minds are and what their shopping plans will be. This holiday season will be a make-or-break moment for many—so planning for it well ahead of time is critical. Marketers must truly understand their customers and build strong relationships through personalized digital experiences—which are more critical than ever for businesses looking to survive and thrive.

Download the full report here.

Sitecore conducted survey research among consumers and marketers about the 2021 holiday season, querying 1000 US residents and 400 US marketers (consumer brands, 100+ employees) who completed a 10-minute survey conducted June 7-14th, 2021. Participants were recruited from an actively managed online panel and were incented using rewards points offered by their online panel. Consumer data was weighted to reflect the general population (age/gender/country). Marketer data was not weighted. A mix of company size and responsibility level is present in the survey responses. 

Daily PR Updates

Essential PR industry news, opinion, and analysis delivered to your inbox daily.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

RECENT ARTICLES

How the wrong spokesperson can be detrimental to your client

How the wrong spokesperson can be detrimental to your client

Even though I covered sports for about a decade as a journalist prior to entering the PR business, and was also the sports marketing specialist for many years at Burson-Marsteller (in addition to playing key roles on none sports accounts), I always cautioned clients...