Seize the Holiday Moment: Merkle’s Playbook Equips Retailers for Success

Merkle has released its 2023 Holiday Playbook, which offers valuable information on the latest trends in the retail industry and provides strategies for brands to differentiate themselves and deliver exceptional customer experiences during the upcoming holiday season.

"It's not news that understanding the unique and shifting needs of your customers is at the heart of any successful holiday strategy. Retailers need to constantly examine their audience's unique mindset, and tailor a connected experience accordingly — from in-store merchandising to app functionality to promotional calendars to loyalty programs and so on. Data, insights, and trends from throughout the year need to inform every holiday strategy, and the Holiday Playbook is here to help retailers deliver a customized approach to shoppers," said Janine Flaccavento, EVP and General Manager for retail, consumer goods, and quick-service restaurants at Merkle.

Inflation concerns and major sales events organized by large retailers have prompted an early start to the holiday shopping season, which now spans four to five months. Merkle's 2023 Holiday Playbook considers trends and insights from the previous year to offer practical recommendations for building an effective plan for this extended holiday period.

Additionally, it emphasizes the need to differentiate oneself in a highly diverse and digitally advanced retail landscape. Although online shopping dominates the holiday experience, consumers express that digital resources enhance their overall shopping journey, even when they visit physical stores. With the increasing number and scale of marketplace platforms, the significance of digital connectivity across various touchpoints is set to grow further.

What to expect this holiday season?  

Merkle's 2023 Holiday Playbook provides retailers with key trends to expect this season, including a changing retail calendar and the rising importance of commodities.

The retail calendar is undergoing a transformation, and Black Friday is no longer the exclusive highlight of the holiday shopping season. Brands need to adjust to this new timeline and be flexible in their approach. Moreover, retailers should enrich the in-store shopping experience by incorporating digital tools and resources. This will enable them to meet the demands of shoppers who seek a wide variety of products and convenient options.

To effectively cater to customers, brands must fully embrace and genuinely express their fundamental identity and values throughout the entire customer journey. This shift from focusing solely on products to delivering meaningful experiences is crucial in today's market. Additionally, retailers, product brands, and shoppers are all seeking ways to maximize their resources and get the most value out of their spending. Fortunately, there are numerous opportunities for everyone to achieve this goal in the coming year.

"No matter what your holiday strategies entail, the customer should always be at the center of your plan. Consumers are savvier than ever about the value exchange between themselves and the brands they love. This year's holiday playbook provides practical advice for retailers to craft a strategy that's deeply informed by data and insights, and powered by smart digital solutions to deliver a completely connected holiday shopping experience," added Flaccavento.

To further help retailers with consumer preferences, Merkle has published its 2023 Consumer Prizing Report, showing that nearly 75% of respondents see gift cards for groceries as a necessity rather than just a desirable extra.