2021 Holiday Preview

2021 Holiday Preview

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 


            It may still be the dog days of summer, but for marketers, advertisers and retailers, it’s never too early to start thinking about the holiday shopping season, especially during these changing times.  And we will certainly give you more tips as we get closer, but for now, check out these helpful hints in our holiday preview.


            Those hoping for success may need to put a little more thought and consideration into their plans for 2021, as it is not going to be the same as 2020, or any year before that.  However, there are still some lessons to be learned from last year.



E-commerce Grows While Mobile Rules


             E-commerce continues its upward climb, after getting a large boost last year due to the pandemic.  Even though more people plan on shopping in-store this year, nothing beats the ease and convenience of ordering online.  A recent Post-Holiday Shopping survey by Bizrate Insights found that 36% of consumers chose to shop online because “buying online takes up less time than going to stores,” and 27% said “it was so easy – why expend more energy?”  Additionally, 49% said they prefer to shop online because “there are no crowds, no traffic, and no hunting for parking.” 

            And so much of this e-commerce is taking place on mobile devices.  Adobe Analytics found that over half of digital Christmas revenue in 2020 came from smartphones.  Mobile sales in 2021 are projected to account for 72.9% of total e-commerce sales — more than ever before.  



Shopping Will Start Sooner


            Since so much shopping is now done online, it is easier to start earlier in the season.  Shoppers want to make sure they all their purchases are made with plenty of time to spare for shipping and possible returns or exchanges. 


            We saw this trend last year and believe it will continue.  Both early discounting and late sales in the season reduced the impact of November’s Cyber Week in 2020.  Cyber Week saw a growth of only 21 percent compared to the 32 percent for the overall season.  However, November reached $100 billion in online sales, which is the first time a single month has grossed that high.  The record-breaking number also indicates a broader timeframe for shopping.  



Consumers Are Looking to Indulge and Spend More


            With people planning to spend more time with friends and family than they likely have in recent years, two out of three consumers say this holiday season will be more important and emotional than prior years.  As consumers search for greater meaning in the season, they plan to spend more to make it happen..


            There’s also continued anticipation that shoppers require less convincing to self-indulge—after a year of isolation, they have felt more entitled to splurge.  There are three particular areas where we expect to see demand, according to Salesforce.  They are adventure (luggage, sporting goods, vacation-wear), items related to social gatherings (party and home dining supplies), and wardrobe investment pieces (jewelry, watches, designer sneakers) to show off during in-person events.  This urge to self-indulge could reduce discount-hunting, but retailers should be cautious, as most savvy shoppers are still programmed to scout out deals. 



The Takeaway


            Planning for Holiday 2021 will not be business as usual.  The pandemic shook things up significantly in 2020, and the 2021 season will undoubtedly come with even more changes in customers’ online shopping behaviors.  A pretty sure bet is that holiday shopping will start early and be mostly online, so prepare to get promotions and campaigns rolling by early fall.  And don’t be afraid to showcase, wants over needs.  Consumers are looking for that.      


Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys and a snuggly Golden Retriever.