For those who work in marketing-especially in the retail world-it's common knowledge that the holidays can mean everything for a business.
According to the National Retail Federation, the last two months of the year often represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales for retailers, and Deloitte said it expects retailers to see holiday sales growth of as much as 4.5 percent this year. That means the competition and pressure to drive holiday sales will be fiercer than ever in 2017.
While we know the holidays will be crucial for retail brands, there are still some unknowns about this year's season and what marketers will have up their sleeves. The following are top predictions for what to expect for holidays 2017.
1. Fewer retailers will place all their bets on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Retailers sent 55.4 percent more email campaigns on Black Friday in 2016 than they sent in 2015, and they sent 42 percent more on Cyber Monday from a year earlier, according to data released by digital marketing vendor eDataSource. Retail brands will likely go even bigger on email in 2017, and if this trend in send volume continues, inbox competition on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will make it tough for many brands to capture audience attention.
Retailers will still email on these key sales dates, but to get more out of their best deals of the year, the majority of retail brands will extend their Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions with preview sales and extensions. The holiday shopping weekend of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday will expand into two full weeks of deals, if not more; in fact, some brands will adopt the entire month of "Black November" to run their biggest holiday sales.
2. Marketers' biggest obsession will see more action than ever.
Video is getting a lot of attention in the marketing industry right now, and it isn't surprising that it's become the medium of the moment: At this point in time, video is one of the most effective content formats out there. According to Social Media Today, 50 percent of marketers who use video in email see increased click rates, sharing and forwarding. Plus, according to Cisco, video traffic will drive over 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2019.
Last year, Target utilized technology that allowed viewers to buy items directly from their holiday videos, and consumers will see more of those interactive experiences from major retailers in 2017. From smaller brands with more limited resources, expect festive, seasonal promo videos across platforms and plenty of social video content that capitalizes on influencer relationships, similar to the videos featuring Anna Kendrick and Zosia Mamet that Kate Spade released in 2016.
3. Brands will launch dedicated campaigns around self-gifting.
About three-quarters of holiday shoppers said that while holiday shopping for their loved ones, they also like to get a little something for themselves, according to a survey by brand consultancy Kelton Global. According to the same survey, millennial shoppers are even more likely to slip in an item for themselves: Shoppers under 35 were 40 percent more likely than Gen Xers or Boomers to self-gift.
Only a few brands, such as Nordstrom's and Amazon, played to this growing trend in 2016, but marketers can expect more retailers to run dedicated "Treat Yourself" promotions for the 2017 holidays. To accompany this sentiment, bonus offers will be huge, like gift cards or exclusive items with a purchase.
With increased noise and more brands than ever vying for consumer attention, 2017 will be more competitive than ever for retailers, but that doesn't mean that they should lose hope. By watching trends and staying ahead of the curve, they can have their most successful holiday season yet.
About the Author
Colby Cavanaugh is the senior vice president of marketing at Emma, a digital marketing platform that makes it easy to create beautifully designed emails that drive results.