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2020 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Multi-Location Brands

The 2020 holiday season will be very different this year. Limited capacity, variable offerings, operation constraints, restricted travel, and heightened concerns over health and safety will shape the season. In addition, consumer behavior will be anything but predictable. We’ve identified four major consumer categories you can expect this season and offer holiday marketing ideas to engage and draw them into your locations.

Holiday marketing ideas for the “price-conscious consumer”

The U.S. unemployment rate is still high, as a result, it is safe to say many consumers will have less to spend around the holidays and will appreciate a good deal.

This theory is being proven as higher numbers of consumers return to outlet malls and discount stores versus traditional malls and department stores. Foot traffic data from Gravy Analytics found outlet malls and discount stores have recovered more quickly, with traffic at or above pre-COVID-19 levels.

For the price-conscious consumer, orient your marketing around limited-time promotions so you can entice a good number of new customers to your business. Here are a few holiday promotion ideas that might help:

  • Consider mobile or digital coupons to entice customers to your store – According to a recent survey by Codebroker more than half of U.S. consumers said they are shopping less often when compared to pre-COVID-19 behavior. On a positive note, nearly two-thirds of shoppers said high-value mobile or digital coupons will get them to visit a physical store.
  • Use email to market discounts75% of consumers scour their inboxes looking for relevant discounts. Whether you are a retailer, grocery store, restaurant, or service-based business, make sure your offers and discounts are in consumers’ inboxes when they go looking this holiday season.
  • Reward local social fans – If you have a local social following on Facebook and Instagram, this can be a great way to reach and reward loyal fans. If you are still building your local social following, consider encouraging customers to follow you for exclusive savings at their local store.
  • Encourage deal sharing – Cost-conscious consumers are sharing deals with family and friends on social media. In fact, sharing deals has increased 52% since lockdown. Provide extra incentives to your loyal customers to pass on savings by providing them with a unique coupon code to share a discount with a friend and get a reward in return if a purchase is made.

Holiday marketing ideas for the “safety-conscious consumer”

An illustration of an employee of a cafe holding what appears to be a curb side pickup back, and giving a thumbs up hand gesture.

As we head into the holiday season, not yet out of the COVID-19 crisis, consumer concern around contracting the virus continues. Ease anxiety by promoting the health and safety precautions your business is taking, especially going into the busy shopping season.

  • Over Communicate – While it may feel redundant at this point, continue to communicate what you are doing to keep holiday consumers and employees extra-safe in your restaurants, stores, and shops this year.
  • Consider bringing back special hours for seniors – This was a service offered during the height of COVID-19 concerns, but with higher than usual volumes of people expected back in grocery stores, shops, salons, and restaurants, it may make sense to bring back senior hours to protect the more vulnerable population.
  • Continue to supplement with online or curbside options – With consumer concern varying widely, brick-and-mortar businesses would be wise to provide an agile online to offline strategy. Continue to offer options like buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, and delivery.

Holiday marketing ideas for the “Eat-drink-shop local consumer”

An illustration of a hand which is holding a smart phone displaying a map with a location pinpointed on it, and in the background behind the phone, there is a shop that also has a pinpoint over it.

The “support local” movement gained momentum amid COVID-19 as consumers looked to put their money behind businesses that aligned with their beliefs. National multi-location brands should act locally to create strong consumer connections this holiday season. Here are some ideas:

  • Empower local store managers – Give each of your local store operators a budget to put toward local charities, schools, and businesses in their area this holiday season, or come up with a company-wide local impact initiative. For example, one national pizza chain made a commitment to give away 10 million slices of pizza to help feed those most affected by COVID-19. Every store had a free-pizza giveaway quota to use in its community to meet the company goal.
  • Partner with local businesses – Partner with one or more complementary businesses in your area to bundle some products or services that consumers can enter to win with every purchase. If you’re a spa, you might partner with a local gym in your area on a self-care basket that includes a one-month gym membership, some free product, and a free spa treatment.
  • Set up pop-up shops at local farmers markets or holiday bazaars – We know that consumers are wary to visit retailers in person without a plan first. But, “shop local” consumers may make an exception for a trip to a local farmers market or holiday bizarre. So join the small business community, and make nice by giving away samples, or donating a portion of your sales at the event to a local cause.
  • Give back to a local cause – Spread some goodwill during the holidays and give customers a way to support their community when they shop with you by giving a portion of your sales to local schools, a local food bank, or another local cause. Or suggest customers pay a purchase forward by buying a Toy for a Tot, canned food for a local food bank, or a food gift card for a needy family.
  • Leverage hyperlocal social ads – If foot traffic and sales is one of your goals, here is a holiday advertising idea to stretch your budget — local social ads. By targeting people near your storefront with the right message, you’ll avoid highly competitive national ad spots and see greater return with higher relevance.

Holiday marketing ideas for the “avoiding-the-crowds consumer”

An illustration of a variety of shoppers hanging out in a store

In-store shopping demand is prone to vary throughout the season. Research suggests buyers will shop during less volume-heavy times, plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds, and consolidate their shopping trips. With consumer preferences continuing to fluctuate, location-based businesses should ensure digital strategies remain agile.

Additionally, anything you can do to help consumers see how they can avoid the misery of the holiday rush by doing business with you (online or offline) will go a long way. People will go to great lengths to avoid crowds and likely even more so this year, with COVID-19 in-store capacity restrictions that will no doubt create long queues for those consumers that wait until the last minute.

  • Reward the Early Bird – The phrase “the early bird gets the worm” has never been more true than it will be this holiday season. Encourage consumers to shop early with you (offline or online) to avoid the dreaded holiday rush. Offer free shipping for orders or discounts for consumers who shop early.
  • Consider special hours for loyal customers – If you are a higher end retailer, spa, or salon, consider creating special hours for your loyal customers. These hours can be “by appointment only” to ensure smaller volumes of people and a safer experience. Retailers can offer the opportunity to schedule an appointment with a shopping assistant and spas can create an extra special in-store experience for loyal customers that might include a bit of bubbly and a free gift with their service. These experiences can be advertised as “no-lines” and “hassle-free.”
  • Make an extra effort to create omni channel brand experiences – According to a Google survey, last year, 78% of U.S. holiday shoppers used three or more channels to do their holiday shopping, a trend that is only expected to accelerate in 2020. Make sure you have an agile online and offline strategy to meet consumers when and where they feel comfortable.
  • Provide easy online access to in-store inventory – With 67% of shoppers saying they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it, make sure your in-store inventory is updated on your local web pages and local GMB page. Leverage the new “See What’s In Store” feature, new to the GMB knowledge panel that allows retailers to upload a feed of inventory.
  • Provide a seamless online to offline experience – Holiday shopping is already a hectic time, spare your customers any added inconveniences by ensuring your online presence is impeccable across the web:
    • Update in-store inventory, including photos
    • Update menu items, including photos
    • Promote special offers and upcoming events
    • Add photos of the location
    • Highlight extended hours, curbside pick up options, phone number and address, and any other attributes that are important for your customers to know
    • Make your primary CTA clear — order online, make an appointment, etc.

There is still so much to learn about how COVID-19 will affect the busiest shopping season of the year. But one thing is certain, consumers will be online more than ever this holiday season.

Make sure your locations are visible online this holiday season when nearby consumers are searching. Download our “Proximity Search Optimization Holiday Planning Guide for Multi-Location Marketers” for more holiday marketing ideas to optimize your local search visibility this season.

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