Typically, the holidays mean food, gifts, outfits and get-togethers—all of which come with plenty of shopping. And although the time spent with family and friends will continue this year, the way in which people connect, celebrate and prepare for the festivities will look and feel a lot different.

In-store browsing and shopping have seen a significant decline with the recent changes in consumer behaviour. As consumers are reducing their in-store visits, they are spending more time online, not only on desktop and mobile devices, but increasingly on connected TV (CTV) devices as well. So if the call for online advertising wasn’t strong before, it definitely is now. As we head into the 2020 holiday season, we’ve uncovered 4 key insights you want to consider when building your holiday campaigns.

Marketing During a Crisis Pays Off

In times of crisis, the first instinct marketers have is to pause initiatives, which is not the best solution. In fact, there are times when it is actually beneficial to communicate in a crisis. Aligning your messaging with the needs of your customers is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship. To achieve or maintain a connection demonstrates how you are pivoting to align with changing behaviours. This may include offering an online experience you didn’t previously have, free shipping options or even curbside pickup.

Whatever the shift in messaging, you need a means of reaching and keeping your loyal customers. As uncertainties around disposable income rise, you want to ensure you are resonating with consumers so they don’t look to finding cheaper alternatives. Additionally, maintaining an online presence helps to solidify the notion that you are still there to support them.

Pay Attention to Generational Groups

It’s no surprise that people of different age groups shop differently. Around the holiday season marketers focus their online efforts on younger generations because they are notorious for spending their time online. This year, there has been a shift—the generation to focus on is baby boomers. This age group traditionally spends the majority of their dollars in-store, but have now been encouraged to do their shopping virtually. Not only that, but they are on more devices than expected, particularly as they have migrated to connected TV (CTV).

Since the start of sheltering in place, 47% of boomers have increased their digital spending and time spent on connected TV and mobile devices have grown as well. Your marketing efforts should align, if they have not already, with this shift. By adding boomer audience segments, your targeting will capture all available audiences who may be interested in your brand or product. Additionally, by including CTV campaigns in your strategy, you are not only capturing them where they are spending their time, but you are aligning with a medium they are familiar with—television.

Online Buying Is Bigger Than Ever Before

With less people heading in-store this holiday season, you need to offer easier buying options and show that you are working to accommodate the 2020 shopper. Of U.S. shoppers who plan on spending this holiday season, ~75% say they will shop online more than in previous holiday seasons, and a similar number say they will browse for gift ideas online rather than in-store. 47% of holiday shoppers plan to buy online and pick up in-store or curbside.

Make sure you are capturing these new behaviours and aligning your online strategy. This is not just for the final purchase stage of the buying process, but also discovery. A benefit of having consumers visit physical locations was the ability to browse and find relevant items as they spend time in brick and mortar locations. With in-store browsing reduced to a minimum, it is essential to build your online efforts around product discovery—remember, consumers cannot purchase what they don’t know about.

Remember to Measure

Finally, reporting and tracking return on ad spend (ROAS) is so important this year. As efforts become consolidated in the online environment, you need to connect the performance of campaigns to the sales themselves. And the best way to show your stakeholders that you are tracking performance for campaigns, is by planning and placing pixels pre-launch. Ad budgets will be fluid as we enter into 2021, and you want to make sure you can attribute any shift in budget to a success in sales.

The holidays are not cancelled. People will still find ways to celebrate at home and virtually with friends and family. The task for marketers this holiday season is not just making sales. In fact, it is making an impression—and a positive one at that. Ensuring you speak to the needs of consumers comes with aligning your strategy and messaging with the times they are living in.