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Nov. 2020 Updated Learnings: Gaining Your “Fair” Share of Holiday Shopping Revenue

November 5, 2020

Over the course of this year, amid a devastating global pandemic, the advertising world was forced to shift its focus to find new ways to attract and engage consumers. Now, with Halloween in the rear-view mirror, the holiday season (along with its corresponding messaging and advertising) is fast approaching. Retail brands, who are already challenged to optimize slashed media budgets, must now ensure their holiday messaging is aligned with consumers’ revised holiday shopping plans and criteria for what’s most important when they consider where and how they will make gift purchases.

Understanding what type of messaging will drive consumers to your brand may be the difference between ending the year in the red or black.

Below are some updated insights and information from the third edition of our Special Report on 2020 Holiday Spending about the ever-changing consumer sentiments, expectations, and plans around holiday shopping amid the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Making (Retail) Spirits Bright

As the global pandemic rages on and the Holidays more or less upon us, seasonal purchasing will be different this year for half of all consumers and potentially for seven-in-ten overall; a notable upward shift since we first began reporting on this back in late-August. Younger consumers are most likely to have changed their expectations for holiday shopping this year, while older consumers (55+) are less likely to have changed plans. This insight provides retailers with a “heads up” on where revised shopping budgets are most likely to occur this holiday season.

Other notable insights from the third edition of our Special Report on 2020 Holiday Spending include:

  • Curtailed holiday shopping spend is the norm this season for many consumers, with four-in-ten+ planning to spend less and slightly more planning to spend the same as last year.
  • This year consumers’ planned holiday gift budget is generally consistent across all consumer age groups. Overall about 60% anticipate spending less than $500 this holiday season.
  • Shopping online for a majority of purchases this season will be the norm, regardless of year-over-year change in gift budget. Big box and locally owned stores will realize a lower and equal share of holiday shopping spend.
  • Most important to consumers with revised brand expectations continues to be the brand’s adherence to CDC guidelines. Beyond value and price, which are first-tier criteria when selecting a brand, consumers need to trust and know the brand.

This Holiday Season, Brand Trust is a Must

As we move into the busiest shopping season of the year during a global pandemic, retailers need to have their branding and messaging down cold. With consumers’ budgets tight and attention short, brands and retailers need to instill a sense of trust and reliability. Messaging examples of brand response to the pandemic and CDC guidelines are critical for achieving brand trust, as well as conveying empathy with consumers’ pandemic-related plight is also important. Holiday advertising would also benefit from messaging empathy in support of healthcare workers and store employees.

Alignment of brand messaging with what consumers need to see, hear, and learn from retail brand advertising is more critical today than ever before. At an emotional level, consumers must trust that a retail brand is adhering to COVID-19 guidelines in response to brand empathy with the catastrophic impact the global pandemic has had on consumers.

To download the updated report, please click here.


Phoenix can help maximize your advertising and bring your campaign to success regardless of where you are in your advertising cycle. For your currently running back to school ads, Phoenix Brand Effect is the gold standard for in-market performance and can provide real-world, real-time, in-flight ad measurement to help you establish a baseline for future campaigns.

When you are ready to start developing your holiday advertising, our AdPi framework can provide best-in-class copy testing and premarket measurement to help you build and optimize your creative. A creative check at-launch uses the same category-specific diagnostic models as pre-launch copy testing and will give you insight into how your ads will perform in-market.

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