3 min.
Expect a historic holiday season in 2021
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Expect a historic holiday season in 2021


This is predicted to be the biggest holiday season in history.”

Google Think Holiday (Webinar)

The holidays are a crucial period for most companies. Retail businesses earn 65% of their revenue on average between November and December due to the popularity of this season of get-togethers and festivities. Getting through the turmoil of the holidays is so important that missing the boat for even one year can be fatal for some businesses.

This year will be a battle for share of wallet. Given that more and more people are now working from home, everyday expenses for many have greatly diminished and their financial health has improved. Lots of consumers, therefore, have more money to spend, and with the gradual removal of confinement restrictions, the desire to celebrate and give gifts will certainly be indulged to the fullest.

This is a unique and simply extraordinary business opportunity, which smart companies will definitely know how to take advantage of, which is why it’s crucial to take an informed, wise and well-planned approach to the season!


Four observations from Google to keep in mind

Before jumping in to our expert recommendations, let’s set the scene by presenting the current state of affairs.

Based on data collected and analyzed over the past year, the Google Think Retail keynote recently made public a few observations that could be quite useful for companies and marketing specialists, given the expected frenzy of the 2021 holidays:

  • E-commerce probably won’t maintain the same pace as in 2020
  • New behaviours based on digital learned in 2020 will continue to be used in 2021, blurring the lines between online and offline retail business
  • Given that user behaviour is in constant evolution, keep an eye on the latest trends and information to clarify your strategy during the holidays
  • Rely on automation to stay flexible no matter what happens

Source: 2021 edition of Google Think Retail

Be sure to keep all of this in mind when it comes time to design your strategy and establish realistic targets for your campaign.


How to get ready for the 2021 holiday season

  1. Sharpen up your sense of timing

One aspect you need to consider this year is keeping ahead of the timing of holiday purchases. Last year, we already predicted that holiday purchasing would happen earlier than usual. That prediction later came to pass, in a very clear way.

As demonstrated in the charts below, in 2020, the intensity of online sales achieved its apex towards the end of November, and the period preceding Cyber Week experienced unparalleled growth.

Source: 2021 edition of Google Think Retail

In 2021, the trend seems about to become even more pronounced, since it looks like people are shopping even earlier! According to Google Think Retail, one out of every five Canadians have already started their holiday shopping. Searches for Christmas pyjamas are already twice as high in 2021 as they were in 2020 during the same period.

Now that you know that the “peak” period could occur a few days earlier this year, adjust your calendar based on this information, since as the saying goes, “Timing is everything!”

2. Ensure the availability and accessibility of products in stores

Like last year, the availability and accessibility of products will likely be your customers’ highest priority. While searches are mostly conducted online, consumers will mainly purchase in-store.

And if you’re thinking you can duplicate your digital performance level from last year, you might be setting yourself up for a fall. Sales not made online will be made in-store.

According to the 2021 edition of Google Think Retail, 58% of consumers state that they complete their consumer journey by purchasing their gifts in-store. What’s more, searches related to curbside pickup have increased by 5,000% compared to the previous year. Hard to beat that revealing bit of information…

Source: 2021 edition of Google Think Retail


3. Maximize your omnichannel experience

Omnichannel experience and measurement will be even more important in 2021 than in 2020. Competition to attract consumers’ attention will reach a peak this year. You therefore need to adapt yourself to your target audience and adjust your messages based on their interests and user journeys.

According to Google Think Retail, the level of competition between companies looking to attract a new client base will peak in 2021:

Competition for user attention will be at peak this year. Indeed last year 24% of shoppers stated that they shopped for a new brand. This year, this ratio is estimated at 36%!”

Here are a few tips for maximizing your omnichannel experience:

  • Present your special offers in real time
  • Broadcast your attention-getting messages by featuring your inventory (ideally by location) and the possibility of obtaining the item immediately
  • Highlight your shipping options and the average time it will take to receive shipments
  • Capitalize on user experience and ease of purchase (both on and offline)
  • Let users try out and discover new products by making testers available in stores or providing explanatory videos online
  • Advertise the addresses of your local stores in your digital communications

4. Bet on quality instead of the lowest price!

Our last expert tip involves the quality of desirable products.

For the past 15 years, we’ve seen a steady increase in searches related to the word “best” while searches involving the word “cheap” have fallen in number. This trend has recently been accentuated even further, now that consumers have more money to spend, they seem to want to take advantage of this to purchase the best products available.

Source: 2021 edition of Google Think Retail

What are your best sellers? Be sure to highlight them! Identify your products’ differentiating elements in order to capitalize on them and maximize their presence in your marketing initiatives.

This might just give you a notable long-term competitive advantage.

5. Be flexible

We can’t predict what the future will be like a month or two from now.

So plan your marketing initiatives early, but leave room for the unexpected. If COVID-19 regulations are relaxed even further, this will certainly lead to increased presence in stores. On the other hand, if social distancing rules become more restrictive, online sales will increase once again.

Your marketing strategy therefore must be flexible and agile, adapted as the situation evolves. Without a doubt, companies that display greater flexibility will win during the holidays.

6. A list of reminders

Every campaign preparation involves a checklist, and holiday campaigns are no exception.

To ensure you cover all your bases, here are a few lists of tasks that might be quite useful for getting through the turbulence of the next few months:

– Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Boxing Day: Are your ready for the holidays?

– Google Think Holidays 2021 Key Takeaways

– Google Ads Growth Formula—2021 Holiday Planner

– How retailers can stand out this holiday season

We hope these tips will help you achieve your targets and get the most out of the opportunities offered over the coming holiday period. To ensure luck is on your side, be ready even earlier than usual, put your money on quality and product availability, be flexible and maximize your consumers’ multichannel experience.

Still have a few questions? Need targeted advice that’s specific to your industry? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts, who will be happy to lend a hand.