Within the next couple of weeks, the holiday season will be in full chaotic swing. It won’t be long before we start seeing alerts for pre-Black Friday sales, pre-Cyber Monday deals. Get ready to spend your Thanksgiving night fighting to be the first to line when the doors open at your local mall to capture those “once in a lifetime deals!” Set your alarm on your laptop to awake early on Cyber Monday to make sure that you don’t miss that “limited quantity available special” — let the hysteria of the holiday season begin.
While most marketers have had their fourth-quarter holiday strategy locked down since early June, this might be the year that being a bit late could actually benefit your company.
It is clear that the brick-and-mortar retail industry is being pummeled via a tremendous shift in consumer purchasing patterns. Subscription marketing, which was once represented by a horde of providers selling trinkets and collectibles, has the entire retail industry in an uproar. Fueled by the rise of Generation X, Y and Z as core consumers, these shoppers are so much more interested in finding ways to reduce the amount of time they spend “shopping” and accessing products, services etc. in a more direct method. The “Google” generation, which banks on the ability to describe their needs and have a range of solutions provided in a nanosecond, is embracing the “subscription box” channel.
This is no fad or idle obsession for these consumers. As such, everything from meal planning and meal preparation to coffee, fragrance, designer clothing and big-box retailing is pivoting on the opportunity to provide the consumer what they need on a monthly or greater frequency basis, direct to their home. Brands like StichFix offer the ability for the consumer to enlist their own personal designer to assemble clothing that fits their preferences and style. The service allows the flexibility of the consumer to keep what they like and send back what they don’t, in terms of fashion. All of these services offer the ability to the consumer to customize subscription preferences.
Holiday marketing may never be the same from now on. It’s likely that many of the best “deals” this year will not be individual-product based. It’s more likely that holiday gifts that will be on most wish lists will be a series of gift subscriptions for all those on our shopping lists. We will move away from providing the recipients on our holiday lists a gift card and rather provide them with a gift subscription, a gift that they will cherish because it provides them a service that makes their lives a bit easier. If you like gourmet coffee delivered directly to your door, you might give someone special on your list 12 months of gourmet coffee.
For those who are still interested in the romantics of finely wrapped gifts under the tree, marketers could offer these consumers their first prewrapped subscription box — a guaranteed sale of holiday cheer throughout the year.
For marketers, the opportunity here is huge. Holiday-subscription-box wins provide the marketer with a level of engagement with customers that transcends the retail channel. Rather than competing on the store shelf for a share of their given market of nameless consumers, this strategy ties them directly to a consumer and gift recipient with whom they have already built a relationship and with whom they can build greater overall lifetime value.
We see retail implosion happening throughout the brick-and-mortar retail channel and to a much lesser degree, within legacy e-commerce channels. Consumers dictate the success of the fourth-quarter sales cycle. This year, if you aren’t marketing a subscription-box gift offer, regardless of your product segment, it is likely that you will have coal in your stocking and not much more. This is yet another “spirit of holiday season yet to come” with a warning for all. There is still time to get engaged here. Just not a lot of time.
Jim Fosina is chief executive officer of Fosina Marketing Group.
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