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Source: McMillanDoolittle Virtual Visit

Despite Challenges, Retailers Deliver a Festive Holiday Season

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year for retail. However, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention, and as the holiday shopping season kicks into full gear, we are seeing leaders get creative with how they are adapting and evolving the experience for their customers.

From a macro-standpoint, we point to these three significant trends retailers are embracing as we head into an atypical holiday season:

  1. Brands Take Greater Ownership of End Consumer Engagement

Brands are leveraging digital channels to build bridges allowing them to interact directly with the consumer in new and unexpected ways. Since the beginning of the pandemic, consumers have been advised to spend less time lingering in stores, which translates to fewer opportunities for brands to capture consumer attention while they browse. Subsequently, the effort to reduce the frequency of shopping trips has led to a renewed appreciation for the shelf stable stalwarts of the center aisle and the nostalgic snacks of days past.

Source: PepsiCo

PepsiCo was quick to recognize this shift and the unique opening it created for brands to leverage digital channels to engage with consumers directly.  Pepsi quickly launched dedicated ecommerce sites for two of their brands. This holiday season, Pepsi’s online gift shop offers brand fans the chance to become brand ambassadors by wearing gear decked out in logos from their favorite snacks. Plus, every purchase of a product representing one of Pepsi’s snack brands comes with a bag of the corresponding snack.

  1. Retailers Embrace Digital Discovery and Delight

2020 has accelerated the pace of digital transformation, and lingering consumer concern over the coronavirus has retailers looking for ways to incorporate virtual experiences this holiday season.

Source: McMillanDoolittle Virtual Visit

UK-based beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury has responded to these concerns by launching the Beauty Secrets virtual store, an immersive shopping environment accessed exclusively  through the existing Charlotte Tilbury e-commerce store. The Beauty Secrets experience is designed to mimic an in-store shopping journey and comes complete with a “Magic Charlotte” avatar to guide customers through.

  1. Retailers Find New Ways to Preserve Old Traditions

Preliminary results from our McMillanDoolittle 2020 Holiday Shopper Survey found that 7 in 10 consumers are concerned about the safety of shopping in indoor malls. In order to preserve holiday traditions while assuaging shopper fears, Rosedale Center in Minnesota is offering “E.L.F.S., Experimental Long-Range Flight Simulator”, an AR enabled digital ride that gives guests the chance to experience “Santa’s view” and to help him deliver gifts.

Source: Rosedale Center E.L.F.

There is no doubt retailers and brands have had to think outside of the box this year about how to offer a best-in-class customer experience while taking on the challenges created by the pandemic.  To learn more about our work tracking global retail innovation for more than a decade, get in touch with us or download a digital copy of one of our complimentary Retail Innovations publications here.  We look forward to bringing you more insights on global trends shaping retail into 2021 in the weeks ahead.

Alyson Fischer

Alyson Fischer is an engagement manager and cross-functional leader with 10+ years of experience helping Global 100 clients tell data-driven stories to elevate the customer experience and inspire dynamic engagement across channels.

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