Brand Experience

Preparing your brand for a holiday season like no other

Right now, as brands plan for the holiday season they find themselves at a crossroads, determined not to fall foul of the consumer. Competition will be fiercer than ever, so here are three ways to help you capitalize on emerging trends during a time of significant uncertainty

In any normal year, September signals the build up to the holiday season and brands will typically have their festive campaign tied up in a bow, ready to go - confident that their message will resonate to the masses.

Except this year is far from normal. Of course, that’s stating the obvious. But what isn’t so obvious, is how the current health crisis might change and the impact that will have on consumers, brands and their festive planning.

The uncertainty, particularly about how consumer sentiment, economic/societal conditions and government legislation may shift over the next new months - is natural - but that doesn’t mean that brands should be reactive, waiting to see what happens. It’s easy to see why this might be a consideration, though. Right now, there is no way of knowing for sure whether a brand’s campaign will resonate in 3 months time, which begs the question - do you commit to your ad spend now? Or wait? By which time it might be too late.

This holiday season will be more competitive than ever, so if brands are to come out of the holiday season in a strong position they need to be on the front foot and ready for every eventuality.

Now more than ever, think “consumer first”

At Qualtrics’ WorkDifferent event, Marketing Executive Omar Johnson - formerly of Beats by Dre and Apple, spoke of the importance for brands to be more outward-looking, and focus on the consumer first. This is true now, more than ever.

Afterall, brands exist for this reason - to serve the specific needs of their consumers.

By understanding and anticipating how these needs change in the current climate, brands will be better placed to predict shifts in consumer sentiment and behavior - and act accordingly.

Take confidence from making data-driven decisions

With spend likely to be limited this holiday season, consumers will be even more conscious of their decisions.

According to global PR agency Edelmen’s Trust Barometer research published in March, on average 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.


This means that what brands say and do now will have even more significance - so there needs to be confidence in the strategy, and the message. But how do you know if it will resonate with the consumer? Brands are at risk of falling into a state of paralysis because they don’t know how consumers will react to their campaign, and how the fall-out might impact the brand. This hesitation allows competitors to get one step ahead. Don’t wait to find out, take steps to make sure your holiday season is a success today.

Here are three ways to help you capitalize on emerging trends in the months ahead:

  • Message testing - Asking your consumer database or a lookalike audience (panel) for feedback is more important than ever this year and will help you understand what consumers need, so you can plan for every scenario. It will give you greater confidence that your campaign will resonate with your consumers when you go live.
  • Attitudes + Usage (A&U) Studies - Identify trends and reasons for change. You’ll understand what consumers did six months ago, what they are doing now, and what they expect to do in the future – helping you plan ahead as best as possible and make better marketing decisions.

Read more about how to stay ahead of changing consumer expectations

  • Brand tracker - Is your campaign working? Do your consumers resonate with it? How do you know? Track the trajectory of your brand throughout the season, and then use this data to make more informed decisions. Ramp up the parts that are working, tweak the bits that are not. This data can give you confidence in the decisions you navigate the current terrain.

Read more about how to manage your brand in times of change