By: Marie Cacciato, VP and Managing Director, NYC
According to the National Retail Federation, 2018 retail industry sales are expected to grow between 3.8 and 4.4 percent over last year. The high level of consumer confidence has set the stage for this growth, especially in the coming fourth quarter where the holiday season can represent up to 29% of a business’ sales. With predictors for overall retail sales success already in place, how do consumer products brands successfully capture customers’ attention in a highly competitive market? The key is to build a solid strategy well ahead of time and put the wheels in motion now, positioning your brand and products as the “must-haves” this holiday season.
Perry Reynolds, a longtime housewares industry insider and current CORE facilitator for the International Home & Housewares Association, helps put this all into perspective. “There are many avenues to consumer awareness, but in the era of growing influence of digital and peer to peer influencing, I believe that PR becomes even more important to (housewares) suppliers. Direct to consumer marketing tools, such as Facebook Live, YouTube, and websites with fully enhanced SEO… allow suppliers to reach consumers effectively and measure that reach.” A smart combination of traditional marketing opportunities, media and influencer relations, live events, digital marketing, and social media support will help drive consumers to seek out and purchase your products and services, not only boosting Q4 sales, but potentially converting your audience into longtime brand loyalists.
Following are some tried and true tips that will boost your holiday sales success:
- Be innovative with your marketing approach. In a time where consumers expect more and more from brands and competing sales messages are out there, your holiday campaign cannot feel forced. Start by analyzing your brand to find which strategy is a natural fit for your business. What is your unique angle and how does that translate to the holiday season? How can you get your customers involved? Find ways to personalize your interactions with your target audience – either directly with engaging owned content or via a third-party influencer – to develop trust and create a truly lasting customer connection.
- Make a big splash with holiday gift guides. Consumers trust the unbiased recommendations of their favorite media outlet. A highly coveted spot on “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list or mention on one of BuzzFeed’s numerous holiday gift guides can go a long way in boosting sales. Whether you have a dedicated PR team or not, it’s important to share your brand story and introduce your hottest products to your target media as they start to put together their seasonal stories and gift lists. There are many ways to leverage media relations during this important time period, but getting valuable facetime with editorial decision makers tops the list. Taking advantage of events like the Press Previews: Holiday Gift Guide Event allows brands to share their stories and introduce their new products to the media. Offering an intimate and interactive environment, Press Previews maximizes quality conversations and creates opportunities for powerful press coverage.
- Lock in your digital strategy. In today’s landscape, your target consumers are almost always on line. And that’s exactly where you need to reach them! Consider how to capitalize on and enhance your owned digital assets. Whether it’s your website, social media profiles, blog content, imagery or videos, control your messaging to surprise and delight your audience in a meaningful way. Use your social media or blog to amplify positive customer reviews and media hits. Consider paid media channels like Google AdWords, paid social media posts or native advertising to gain visibility. While this may seem like an oversimplification, you should carefully explore the right strategy to give you the measurable results you want and need this year.
- Use influencers to spread the word. Engaging influencers and their communities is essential to generating awareness and driving profits. The key is to partner with influencers who have a passionate and loyal social media following that fits your brand values. Authentic, first-person influencer-generated content is the most persuasive kind, especially when it’s reaching an audience that is personally invested in what that influencer says and does. Influencer marketing is an ever-evolving strategy – take a look here for tips on where it’s all heading this year.
- Invest in live events. According to Entrepreneur, two-thirds of marketers say they will increase the number of live events they are hosting this year. As one of the most effective marketing tactics, events offer you the opportunity to connect directly with both existing and prospective customers and, in many cases, members of the press. Depending on your budget, you can go big with a creative and press-worthy activation in your top markets, take advantage of your retail partnerships to organize sampling or demo events in their store locations, or anything in between. Find creative ways for your target consumers to experience your brand – this personal connection can go a long way!
Let’s continue this discussion. Please share any tips or tactics you’ve found success with. The holidays will be here before you know it, so let’s be ready to make some waves!