Skip to content
Messaging is Important to be Relevant for the Holidays

November 18, 2020


Messaging is Important to be Relevant for the Holidays

The holiday shopping season is one of the biggest of the entire year. There’s a reason that there is a “Black Friday” in the US. Common lore is that consumers spend so much that day, they put many retail businesses “into the black."

There’s been considerable debate about what the holidays will look like this year. As we draw closer to December, a clearer picture is emerging. Travel, which is usually a big component of the holidays for many people, seems to be off the table. Big gatherings and holiday parties are also out, while phone calls and Zoom get-togethers are in.

That leaves us Marketers wondering what holiday shopping is going to look like—and how we can respond to changing attitudes toward gift-giving, holiday décor, and more.

Planning for Christmas Must Begin Early

One of the biggest trends is people staying away from the stores and restaurants and switching to buying things online this year. No surprise given the media talking about the danger of Covid 24/7. We went to a mall a week ago, and the place was empty on the weekend …sidenote…bricks and mortar will have a hard time surviving without traffic and impulse buying.

But, to deliver those Christmas smiles, those of us that are shopping online must also factor in shipping times. And with more people ordering online, it’s likely that we’re going to see huge increases in the number of packages.

We’ve already seen this happen. Demand for couriers went up as we entered lockdown in the spring. Logistics companies had to reroute shipping capacity to meet consumer demand.

The holidays usually put strain on our postal and courier systems anyway. So now we’re going to put online holiday shopping into the mix. Shipping times are likely to increase and things are going to get backlogged.

There’s also concern about the availability of some products. International shipping and production has caused problems in lots of supply chains. Nintendo Switches sold out earlier in the year. Some bike manufacturers haven’t been able to get parts. The publishing industry is predicting shortages: production, shipping issues, and paper are all combining to cause problems. Clothing manufacturers shipped a month or two early and are now trying to push spring.

People have their ear to the ground on these kind of rumblings. It means they’re going to start shopping earlier. There will be no more Jingle All the Way-esque 24th-of-December panic shopping.

People Want to Be Thoughtful

Most people have indicated they also want to be considered about their gift-giving. The idea of giving a gift for the sake of giving a gift is pretty much off the table.

Many of us are looking at practical items. More than anything, we want to be thoughtful, to showcase our relationship with the recipient. We want to get them something they’re going to enjoy and appreciate—maybe even treasure.

Functional gifts top the list, especially in light of so many people picking up new hobbies. You might be looking at getting the new baker in your life some baking equipment or a new cookbook. If someone took up a musical instrument, you might get them lessons or some other related item.

Toys, games, and books are also popular items, especially since we needed to keep ourselves entertained in lockdown. Self-improvement and fitness were also areas of focus. Gifts that focus on nutrition, fitness, or getting healthy could be popular too.

Concern around How Much is OK to Spend

There’s been quite a bit of concern about how much people will spend for the holidays this year. After all, big gatherings and office parties are off the table. Will you need to get all the trimmings and trappings? Secret Santa gifts might not happen, especially since it’s tough to get a thoughtful gift for $20 or $30.

The economic situation has also put a big shadow over the holiday season. Even people who are back to work may be feeling a pinch in their pocketbooks still.

About half of people have said they’ll probably spend about the same, particularly on gifts. They may pare back the list of recipients or they may only give one gift instead of several.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

We have to acknowledge that the holidays will be different. Emotionally connecting with consumers will be critical. The holiday ads are already airing and many are award winning. The messaging around coming home or sharing love feels like it could resonate.

Yes, family is more important, and keeping them safe. Showing love is going to be important. Sure Zoom calls can help but as a Marketer, what ideas do you have to showcase how your products may show love? New ways to cook with it? New ways to serve it? Freeze it into cocktails…..How can we help our customers think through this unique buying time of year and include our brands in new thoughtful ways? 

Thinking through the “how” would be an investment in the relationship we have with our customers. Our customers are spinning. They don’t know how to plan for this holiday and as rules change almost daily, it is just creating stress when this time of year is all about family and celebrating the year behind and the new year ahead.

Key messages linked to our brands will resonate and build community: shop at your local retailer or buy Canadian. Provide new fresh ideas like the Amazon ad showing an apartment building community coming together to support a (solo) performance by a ballerina whose show got cancelled. She entertained everyone, and the community rallied to support her dream and hard work. The ad’s tag line is “the show must go on.”

The “show is going on” and we need to help our customers rethink how to think about the holidays. Flexibility and creativity have been key to our customers all year. And they’re key to our marketing campaigns now.

No matter what category you’re in, the question to ask right now is what your customers look to you for and how you can be sure to deliver it.

So, like always, remember to start with the why!


Here to inspire!

I am a business person who has excelled in driving a competitive edge through marketing, strategy, innovation, building irresistible brands and unlocking the genius that exists. I am writing is inspire or create new consideration. If you have ideas or questions that you would like me to put a pen too, I would be delighted.

I would also be grateful if you shared this or any of the articles I have written to inspire others.

Connect With Us

We work with companies around the world. Our offices are located in Caledon, Ontario, Canada, minutes from Pearson International Airport.

We post articles, white papers, and videos through social media a few times a week. We aim to inspire. Please follow us at:

click to copy
click to call

365 © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy