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We haven’t even carved pumpkins yet, but it’s time to dust off the garland. Marketers have been thinking about Christmas since well, last Christmas. What will make 2018 different than previous years? We’ve highlighted five holiday trends to consider for this season:

1. Black Friday (more like Black November)

For some companies, Black Friday remains the most important day of the year, crucial to the bottom line. However, the Christmas creep is real, and Black Friday has transformed from a single day of sales to Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday and weekend sales.

Due to holiday sales starting earlier and brands like REI and ModCloth actively sitting out, Black Friday is slowly losing its relevance as a single day event.

What will we see in 2018?

Brands will focus less on getting customers in-store, opting to focus on online sales. Brands will begin “Black Friday” sales weeks before the actual day and continue them in the weeks following.

We’ll also see more brands purposefully casting themselves in the virtuous light of indifference of Black Friday.

2. Heightened Holiday Anxiety

“Ambient apprehension” is what many people who may not have previously been concerned about anxiety now feel. Anxiety disorders are now the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million Americans. (Iconoculture 2018) The holidays only heighten this anxiety. Gift-giving in a Pinterest-perfect world, concerns about finances and potential family tension are just the beginning of anxiety during the holidays.

What will we see in 2018?

On Instagram, we’ll see a lot of relatable memes with the “anxiety around the holidays” theme. People on social media, especially Gen Z will openly discuss their mental health.

This year, we’ll be hearing holiday grievances on Facebook more than ever. During the throes of the holiday season, self-care will be a priority. This year, if a person doesn’t want to go home for the holidays because they know it will send them over the edge, they won’t.

3. Untraditional Traditions

Holiday formalities are waning. People are seeking new traditions to replace the same thing year over year. People want to simplify and enjoy time with family and friends, rather than putting on a traditional holiday spectacle.

What will we see in 2018?

People will continue creating their own traditions. Millennials might opt for having an experience, such as a vacation rather than heading back to their parents’ house for the holidays.

Rather than traveling home, being “home for the holidays” might mean staying in town and having a Friendsgiving, holiday movie binge or just enjoying the break from work, ignoring the holidays altogether.

4. Inspiration. Discovery. Purchase.

Gone are the days of walking through a Christmas-decorated mall holding big bags full of holiday purchases. Brick and mortar stores are still relevant, but customers are looking online rather than at retailers for gift-giving inspiration. 

What will we see in 2018?

Gift guides, gift guides, gift guides. People have already started their search for inspiration, browsing Pinterest, Googling “gift for mom” or even looking at their partner’s Amazon cart. Then, they will analyze the options, perhaps veering for a different brand than they are normally loyal to if it offers a better price or free shipping.

Mobile purchases will surpass desktop purchases. And free and fast shipping will be imperative for brands to stay competitive as customers make decisions (especially as December 25 approaches).

5. Experiences at Brick and Mortar Stores

Brick and mortar stores know the online shopping experience is colossal competition. While shoppers will get their inspiration online, many will still opt to go to physical stores, especially for last-minute buys.

Loyalty isn’t guaranteed anymore. In-store experiences can help brands differentiate and leave a customer with positive memories.

What will we see in 2018?

Retailers will create unique in-store shopping experiences for their customers, whether that’s offering interactive displays, hands-on demos or unique events.

Social media will be used not only to promote deals but also complement and build buzz for the in-store experience.

The goal of the 2018 holiday season is to keep shoppers engaged, happy and loyal. There are so many places customers can spend holiday dollars, so how will your brand handle the challenge?

Related Resources

American Anxiety: The Role of Marketers

Delight Your Customers with Jobs To Be Done

Marketing in a Time of Constant Change

Laura Oxler

Laura Oxler

Laura began her career as a content producer, bringing a creative, positive spirit to every brand. She finds energy in the strategic side of ideas and has since made the move to the Strategic Insights team, focusing on creating content rooted in strategy while she waits for her acceptance letter from Hogwarts.
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