Holiday Insights: Partnerships and Covid

Each month, Street Fight sources expert insights from the businesses in our ecosystem on our theme. This month’s theme is the Hybrid Holidays, and our experts share their takes on taking advantage of partnerships, navigating Covid, and optimizing for holiday grocery preferences.

Tara Thomas, Director of Analytics and Insights, Partnerize, on Partnerships, Mobile, and Timing

I already sense that holiday 2021 performance will be exciting to watch, given baseline data from last year’s Covid-impacted holiday season. In 2020, our analysis indicated that revenue increased nearly 20% YoY with publisher partner commissions soaring to 33% for the same time period, signaling a concerted interest by brands to utilize the partnership channel to reach and convert their target audiences.

Further, average order values on mobile devices increased 13% YoY, suggesting a greater level of comfort by consumers to make larger purchases on mobile devices than in years prior.

As always, last year indicated that consumers were already in holiday shopping mode well before Thanksgiving, as we saw 86% revenue growth YoY the Tuesday before the holiday. This year, we anticipate that trend to sustain if not increase due to expected consumer shopping behavioral shifts as a result of low inventory levels.

Jillian Tate, SVP media, and Sheena Banton, SVP Customer Marketing, Bounteous, on navigating Covid

Once burned, twice shy: In Q3 2020, during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a mad dash to shore up e-commerce in time for the holidays. To avoid repeating that scenario in the case of another surge or any in-person shopping hesitancy, retail brands are investing in more nimble commerce platforms to ensure the digital storefront is consistently open for business. If retailers had to contingency-plan last year, they should double down this year on being proactive and preemptive. 

Along those lines, supply chain and labor shortages may impact retailers’ ability to execute planned promotions. To get ahead of these challenges, businesses should use loyalty programs and CRM to incentivize customers to order early and often, well ahead of the holiday season.

Retailers will also be seeking ways to grow and capture additional segments. For example, Walmart will be building on its 2020 success livestreaming with TikTok, creating shoppable live-streams to showcase products and gain followers.

More retailers are also using their own first-party data to surgically target and convert the customer segments that will yield the highest return.  

While more businesses offer convenience options like expedited or same-day shipping, click-and-collect and curbside pickup, these will be impacted by the ability to hire. The biggest question is: Will businesses be able to deliver on the promises they made through e-commerce and online ordering, and if not, how can they address that through loyalty and incentivization?

Mike Pederson, CEO and co-founder, AdAdapted, on holiday grocery preferences

Few places experience holiday seasonality quite like the grocery store. In November and December, shoppers forgo their usual products in favor of items like turkey, eggnog, and baking supplies. One way CPG marketers and grocers can examine the holiday seasonality of the items they are promoting is by taking a look at product and category history across mobile grocery lists.

For example, according to 2020 grocery trends from AdAdapted’s first-party consumer data:

  • The baking category experiences its strongest add-to-list performance in November and December. In 2020, sugar, flour, and crescent rolls climbed continuously throughout the last two months of the year, while consumers actually added cake mix to lists at a lower rate in November than in October.
  • In November and December of 2020, Baileys was by far the most popular brand in liquor and spirits, with Tito’s and Jack Daniel’s following in second and third place. Seven of the top 10 items were whiskeys or rums. 

Based on the above trends and ongoing consumer demands, grocery stores should prepare for the holiday season by ensuring key categories such as baking and spirits are set up for maximum success. That means items should be readily available on shelves and paired with key promotions during peak periods.

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