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Posted by Brittany on October 19, 2020


We know this year will be different for holiday marketing, but as marketers it is our responsibility, not to fear the unknown, but to look at the bigger picture to understand where we can fit into it. 

Traditionally, holiday marketing kicks-off in November along-side American Thanksgiving with Black Friday. Chaotic at the best of times, this year will surely be no different. The big question this year is — will brick and mortar stores be open and will people go with the same enthusiasm we’ve seen in the past? 

Is Black Friday on?

Confirmed recently, Walmart and some other major American retailers will be closed this Thanksgiving — a first since the late 1980s. It is expected that in lieu of a big Black Friday frenzy, retailers will push sales online, extend in-store sales, and host multiple in-person events to thin out crowds and better manage public safety. It is yet to be confirmed if smaller retailers will follow suit. In Canada, stores will likely be open as usual. We expect the push online will continue, though in-store traffic will likely surge. 

If this tells us anything, it is that not even a global pandemic can completely cancel a holiday devoted to shopping. But before we condemn it, it is important to understand that for many, Black Friday isn't just about shopping. It is the holiday kick-off, a family tradition, and something meaningful, despite its superficial appearance.  

What do marketers need to know? 

Marketing in an age of insecurity is top of mind across the industry right now. While some brands are hesitant to market through the holidays, others are taking the opposite approach, and pushing harder than ever before. At BTI, we think the best approach is the approach that resonates with your brand’s mission. This news from IKEA is a wonderful example of that. In a press release, IKEA Canada announced that instead of Black Friday sales, they wanted to inspire more sustainable living. While promoting their “buy back” program, IKEA found a way to be a part of the Black Friday conversation, in a less cringey way than a traditional door crasher story. 

The challenges of 2020 are felt deep in our communities. As a result, there is little tolerance for marketing messages that don’t put the human experience front and centre. Common themes we see in messages that resonate this year are loyalty, empathy, consistency, authenticity and purpose. We are also seeing united voices calling for more local and small shopping

The fact of the matter

When it comes to your marketing strategy for the holidays this year, ensure it is meaningful and true to who your organization is. Be proactive enough to meet your target audience where they are now, with content that means something to them. Though competition for holiday dollars will be fierce this year - this does not mean that you have to spend more or be more aggressive with your strategy. In fact, being vulnerable and creative might get you further. 

Stay tuned for more thoughts from BTI on Holiday Marketing in 2020.