Key strategies for marketing and merchandising this holiday season

online shoppingLockdowns and retail closures last year forced retailers and foodservice into a holiday season that was anything but normal for many Canadians. This year, with COVID-19 restrictions loosening in several Canadian provinces, retailers and the foodservice industry can expect evolved consumer holiday shopping and foodservice experiences in the form of online and curbside pick-up channels. With more finances to spend this year, consumers have positioned order-ahead options as experiences that will reign supreme. With this trend in mind, here’s how to merchandise and market for the 2021 holiday season:

1. Match your online shopping experience to your in-store

Foot traffic in retail spaces is set to increase this year, however, retailers shouldn’t discount their online and curbside pick-up-preferring customers. To motivate shoppers looking for holiday food favourites and pantry staple items like bread and peanut butter, TAKU Retail suggests keeping your online channels up-to-date and holiday-themed to align with your in-store décor, and create a seamless holiday shopping experience for all shoppers.

2. Offer more with the with the
slight uptick in spending

A recent survey by the Retail Council of Canada found that Canadians are planning on spending more this holiday season, compared to 2020. According to the survey, the national average will be $792, up 14 per cent from last year. When it comes to grocery, food ranks second on the list of top categories for spending this year. To avoid supply chain issues and other pandemic-induced retail challenges from 2020, consumers will try to shop early and local for their holiday goods.

A proven tactic to capture local shoppers passing by, or even those waiting for a curbside pick-up order, is to take advantage of the popularity of QR codes. Placing QR codes in easy-to-find areas, like store windows or front doors, allows customers to “shop for items impulsively and learn more directly in your online store.” TAKU Retail states that even if these customers don’t buy immediately, you can take advantage of re-targeting features to encourage customers to log back on and complete their purchase.

3. New opportunities for foodservice

Experts are predicting a probable return to a pre-pandemic holiday rush not just in retail, but also foodservice. Consumers are likely returning to larger holiday gatherings this year; however, those who are tired of homecooked meals after prolonged lockdowns will turn to catered options for holiday gatherings. Winsight Grocery Business suggests grocers get behind the demand for catered meals by simply acting more like restaurants. Include a roster of prepared meals and baked goods so customers can order ahead of time for their holiday gatherings. Another way to capture those looking for convenience? Bundle staple items together in a holiday-themed package that customers can simply grab-and-go, or better yet, use as gifts. For example, bundle chocolate, peanut butter and marshmallows for a perfect holiday peanut butter hot chocolate, which can make for a thoughtful hostess gift.

As the new year looms, retailers can look ahead to 2022 where they’ll see a number of 2020 and 2021 trends continue to evolve that can offer marketing and merchandising opportunities. These include a continued move towards online shopping, continued focus on health and well-being, the expansion of the “at home” economy, physical redesign of store spaces to make customers feel safe, greater use of in-store self checkouts, increase in contactless payments, omnichannel marketing by retailers, and experience-related shopping.