More than 164 million consumers are planning to shop over Thanksgiving weekend, kicking off what analysts predict could be one of the biggest holiday seasons in recent memory. But top retailers aren’t leaving anything up to chance. In one of the biggest pushes we’ve seen in years, retailers around the country are embracing interactive technology and social channels in a play to capture a greater share of consumer holiday spending.
Bringing together the digital and real-world shopping experience, brands are hoping to turn social media buzz into foot traffic. Some of the country’s largest retailers have already gotten their holiday campaigns off the ground, a savvy strategy considering the most effective month for consumers to engage with brands and their holiday campaigns is actually November, when click-through-rates are 125% higher than average.
Here are five examples of some of the hottest strategies we’re seeing play out this Thanksgiving weekend.
1. Extending OOH Campaigns with Social Sharing
The baked goods company Bauducco Foods USA is leaning heavily on social media to drive sales this Thanksgiving weekend, working with OUTFRONT Media to incorporate social influencers into the company’s out-of-home holiday campaign. Bauducco is enlisting social media influencers to share the brand’s story online, and the company is taking over the Cube (a 4,000 square foot motion display in Times Square) to encourage passers-by to create and share holiday messages with their own friends. Those videos are being pushed out by OUTFRONT and Bauducco on their own social channels. The strategy is designed to extend the reach of Bauducco’s OOH holiday campaign and connect the company to a greater number of people online.
2. Launching Online ‘Toy Labs’
Interactivity seems to be a common thread in a number of the hottest retail strategies at play this Thanksgiving. Walmart is jumping on the bandwagon, as well, partnering with the interactive video entertainment provider Eko to produce a “digital playground” that children can play on from their home computers and tablets. Children are being invited to test out the retailer’s most popular toys using an online “Funtroller.” They can also watch other kids play with toys and share lists of their favorite picks. Walmart’s online toy lab comes at a time when the retailer is looking to fill the void left by Toys R Us. It’s also a nod to the toy unboxing videos that have become so popular on YouTube, but with an interactive twist.
3. Harnessing Pinterest for Product Discovery
Kohl’s always goes big with its holiday marketing strategies. This year the company is putting a sharp focus on social media. Among the forward-thinking strategies most likely to be copied by Kohl’s’ retail competitors is a Pinterest gift finder. Consumers browsing Pinterest will find a “snow globe” gift finder offering gifting recommendations based on the person for whom the searcher is shopping. Kicking it up a notch, Kohl’s designed its gift finder to activate when consumers shake their mobile phones, like a regular snow globe, adding an interactive element to the strategy.
4. Turning Instagram Views into Holiday Sales
Pinterest isn’t the only social platform feeling the love from retailers this holiday season. Macy’s is making a bet that Instagram will be the platform of choice for gift buyers, as the retailer debuts new instant gift guides as Instagram carousels. Shoppers who answer basic questions about things like interests and price range using the Macy’s Instant Gift Guide Carousels are invited to swipe up and follow ribbons leading them to find the perfect gift. Each carousel post focuses on a different friend or family member the person might be shopping for.
5. Voice-Assistant Ordering to Minimize Long Lines
Just in time for the “Black Wednesday” rush—when shoppers wait in long lines at supermarkets to pick up last-minute ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner—The Kroger Co. launched a voice-assistant ordering tool that integrates with Google Assistant. Shoppers can interact with the their Kroger Grocery Pickup cart by saying “Hey Google, talk to Kroger” and then add items to their carts. Completed orders can then be picked up at the store, without having to wait in long holiday lines. Although the service is currently available just a handful of Kroger Co. stores, the company plans to add markets in December and through early 2019.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.