Monday, November 24, 2014

Need Some Holiday Inspiration? Here Are Some Campaign Ideas From Top Retailers

By Alicia Fiorletta, Senior Editor, Retail TouchPoints

It’s always interesting to see the different approaches retailers take to their holiday marketing and promotions. Sure, there may be the standard Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but retailers are thinking outside of traditional promotional calendars and tactics in order to stand out.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made a point to track all the different announcements from retailers outlining their holiday sales and campaigns. As I hoped, they cover a broad scope, touching on everything from sweepstakes and giveaways, to doorbusters, events and experiential marketing campaigns.

Since we’re somewhat early on in the holiday game, there’s still time for retailers to take a look at their peers and see how they can revise and refine their marketing strategies. While you won’t be able to complete a chain-wide beacon deployment by Black Friday, here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and even thinking about next year!

Encourage shoppers to discover new things: Last year, we covered Barnes & Noble’s inaugural Discovery Weekend, which was developed to “bring the spirit of fun and discovery to the holiday shopping experience and help customers find the perfect gifts for the people they care most about,” said Mary Amicucci, VP of Adult Trade and Children’s Books at Barnes & Noble, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Due to its success, the retailer held the event again this year! Throughout the weekend, Barnes & Noble will provide family-friendly events, interactive activities, complimentary story times, and book signings and appearances from authors and celebrity personalities. Additionally, the retailer will hold a series of contests, including the #BNSweaterContest, which encourages consumers to wear their most outrageous holiday attire and post pictures to social media. Winners will receive a series of must-have gifts for the holidays and Barnes & Noble gift cards.

Although these are two very different approaches, they both encourage consumers to further engage with the Barnes & Noble brand. While Discovery Weekend drives in-store traffic and creates highly immersive and fun shopping experiences, the #BNSweaterContest encourages shoppers to interact on social. Taking a multichannel approach like this is key, especially as more consumers use their mobile devices in stores. 

Establish new partnerships: Connecting and building relationships with similar or like-minded brands can be valuable for expanding your consumer base and generating buzz. This year, Target has established a partnership with TOMS to release a collection of unique apparel, footwear and even home goods for the holidays. TOMS is a really hot brand now, and has been recognized for its charitable business model. Because of this partnership, Target has a very positive association with the brand, which improves consumers’ overall perception of the retailer.

Macy’s is thinking bigger with its holiday partnerships. The retailer has introduced the Holiday Arcade, which is a series of in-store gifting shops offering a variety of different products for different types of consumers. The Holiday Arcade gifting shops have been rolled out in six locations across several cities, including New York City and Chicago. Macy’s generated partnerships with Build-A-Bear Workshop, Paddington Bear and Curious George, among other brands, to roll out the Arcade. Because this store concept is limited time, it creates a sense of excitement for shoppers, which encourages them to visit participating stores before the products are gone!

Embrace charity and good will: After all, contributing to the overall good of mankind is what the holidays are about after all! Retailers can build customer loyalty and improve sentiment by partnering with charities or holding special events and campaigns for local or even national organizations. For example, Macy’s is inviting customers to participate in its annual Believe campaign, which has raised more than $8.7 million to Make-A-Wish.

From November 7 to December 24, customers can visit their local Macy’s store to drop stamped letters addressed to “Santa at the North Pole,” into special Santa Mail letterboxes. Now, consumers can even visit to create and send their letters to Santa. For each letter collected in-store and online, Macy’s will donate $1, up to $1 million, to Make-A-Wish, helping to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
  Have some fun: Yes, it’s really that easy! Look at how Kohl’s and Disney Interactive are getting families to participate in some holiday fun. Up to 4,000 adults and children submitted videos of themselves singing the theme from Frozen, “Let it Go.” The videos were submitted on the Disney web site and through the Disney Applause app for iOS and Android devices. Americans can select their favorite singers, who will then be included as a part of Kohl’s holiday commercial, which will air during the American Music Awards on November 23.

In a way, the campaign approach is not directly associated with Kohl’s as a brand or retailer. But a variety of Frozen products are sold in the retailer’s stores, and Disney is most likely a great partner for the retailer. In fact, Kohl’s even is encouraging shoppers to share their favorite “Frozen finds” on social media using the hash tag #FrozenFunAtKohls. This was a great way for Kohl’s to be included in a nationwide campaign that generated a lot of buzz and participation. Although your retail business may not have the same bandwidth or reach as Kohl’s or Disney, this example confirms that your campaigns don’t always have to focus on getting customers to make a purchase.

As we venture further into the holiday season, I’m sure more fun campaigns and tactics will emerge.

Are there any interesting approaches you’ve seen so far? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!