Christmas 2020: How The Pandemic Will Change The Ways We Celebrate And Shop

November 13, 2020

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Its been a tough year for everyone and it promises to be a unique festive period, Adimo explores how Christmas will be different for shoppers and in the world of e-commerce...

It’s clear that this year we’ll have an unusual holiday season. With American newspapers reporting that Santa may be absent from shopping malls and department stores, and concerns in the UK that students might be isolated on campus this December, COVID-19 is poised to accomplish what the Grinch could not. For brands looking to keep their heads above water as the second wave crashes in, what trends and approaches will enable you to ensure that Christmas shopping continues while other holiday traditions grind to a halt?

The Party May Be Over

With the UK restricting indoor gatherings to six people, and similar restrictions enacted or looming in other nations, large office and family gatherings might be off the table this year. The question for CPG brands is whether the public will still embrace excessive feasting at home. In the UK turkey farmers have cut production in anticipation of reduced demand. Pubs, restaurants, and alcohol brands are on tenterhooks over the fate of traditional boozy fetes, Christmas Eve parties, and Boxing Day “dos.”

While the hospitality industry has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, there could be a silver lining to restrictions on socializing for grocery and alcohol brands and retailers. Many consumers are eager to offer themselves a festive treat, and this could lead to an increase in alcohol sales similar to the bump which occurred during the first wave, or a spike in up-market food sales. Make sure that your marketing message reminds consumers that they deserve a reward for taking the responsible approach to social distancing.

Shopping Won’t Be The Same

Rather than hearing the traditional Salvation Army bell ringing out, the sound accompanying Christmas shopping this year is likely to be the clicking of a mouse. Every marketing expert around the globe is in agreement that foot traffic in stores will dramatically decrease year-on-year. One way to ensure that empty shops don’t submarine your business is making sure you have the infrastructure in place to meet massively increased demand for delivery. If a Nintendo Switch or a Christmas goose arrives a day late, you’ve probably lost a customer for life.

Amazon has clearly anticipated that delayed deliveries of Christmas presents could be fatal for customer retention (and also bad news for romantic relationships and family portraits). In response, they’ve moved the date of this year’s Prime Day to mid-October, in an attempt to start the holiday shopping season earlier, gauge the increase in demand, and ensure that holiday deliveries show up on time. Other major retailers have also moved to start the holiday shopping season in October, as they seek to limit in-store crowds while ensuring that revenue continues to pour in.

Weigh Your Decisions Carefully

A Rakuten survey found that “70% of British shoppers do not plan to decrease their Christmas spending this year and 73% of that spending will primarily take place online. The most powerful tactical tool for the festive period will be discounts, with 47% of consumers citing them as the most influential factor in their upcoming purchase choices.” But it would be unwise to base all of your marketing decisions on the guesses of a random sampling of people on how they’ll behave months in the future in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.

The only thing we know for certain is that this holiday season will be different, and finding the right tone for your Christmas messaging will be more difficult than ever before. Do you focus on tragedy and resilience? Weariness with the bleakest year in recent memory? Joy that 2020 is finally coming to an end? The profound importance of family in these difficult times? Your guess is as good as ours.

In a time of profound uncertainty, there has never been a better moment to harness the power of marketing driven by real-time data. You’ll need to be nimble as restrictions change, the pandemic ebbs and surges, the market displays volatility, and consumers swing between optimism and despair. By correctly utilizing customer data, you can make educated assumptions about what individuals will respond to. Are they furloughed and desperately searching for discounts? Are they looking to spend big to make their holiday feel special? Are they housebound or visiting stores? The more you know, the more successful your approach will be.

The Season Of Giving

Consumers have repeatedly made it clear that they want brands to act responsibly and use their resources for the benefit of society during this crisis. A study from PR agency Edelmen found that “65% of respondents said a brand's response to the pandemic would have a significant impact on their likelihood to buy from that brand in future.” And Christmas is also a time of year when society is paying far more attention to the less fortunate amongst us. Your brand needs to be emphasizing that it isn’t a faceless corporate entity, but a community of people which has a positive impact on the lives of those it touches.

Your messaging needs to reflect the ways you take care of your employees, and the people in your community. For those struggling, and worried about the pandemic’s health, economic, and social impacts, showing that your brand has compassion, acts responsibly, and is motivated by more than simple profit is essential. In tough times, we’d much rather give our money to Santa than to Scrooge. Communicating the fact that you care more for people than share prices is a must.

If you’re looking to have a successful holiday season, you’ll need to take all of these trends into account. It’s clear that this will be our first truly digital festive season, with many of our traditions, from shopping to carolling, religious services, and family dinner, moving online. While it’s impossible to make exact predictions about how the public will behave, diving into data, creating the infrastructure needed for online shopping, getting an early start, and showing that you care will put you in the best position to succeed. If you’ve already fallen behind and need help building your eCommerce capabilities, get in touch with Adimo today!  

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