2021 Holiday Marketing: Start Planning for Success as Early as Now

No one could have predicted the events of 2020. 

Brands had to return to the drawing board and reimagined their holiday marketing strategies to keep the business alive. The benefits of eCommerce platforms to online shoppers in 2020 paved the way for shaping this year’s 2021 holiday shopping. 

In 2020, consumers spent over $784 billion during the holiday season. Despite the pandemic, there was still an increase of more than 8%. 

It’s safe to say that there’s no reason to believe that it will be any different this year. 

While the holiday season is not yet a big concern for most consumers today, brands need to know that planning for the holiday’s make-or-break moments starts now. 

So, what can brands learn from the 2020 holidays? This article will help brands strategize early with various trends and insights for the 2021 holiday season. 

A Look Back at 2020 to Plan Ahead for the 2021 Holidays

While the fear of COVID-19 last year may not have affected the 2020 holiday season, there’s no doubt that the fear of contracting the virus has prompted people to stay at home. 

The pandemic prompted at-home consumers to spend more time and money on online platforms. It also prompted the implementation of curbside pickups from retailers, free shipping, and gift card offers to aid their home isolation. 

In the United States, shopping center giants such as Walmart and Best Buy have shifted their mall operations to become fulfillment centers. Employees assembled local deliveries while socially distanced consumers waited at parking lots for their orders. Shop spaces that were once devoted to t-shirts and TV displays are now repurposed to pick and pack online orders. 

Digital Commerce 360 noted that, “The pandemic pushed more shoppers online to buy gifts over the holidays in 2020, resulting in higher-than-ever online sales growth and penetration.”

“US shoppers spent $201.32 billion online during the holiday shopping season last year, a 45.2% year-over-year increase,” it added. 

This unprecedented increase just goes to show that consumers have wholeheartedly embraced online shopping. 

These types of retail shopping behavior are expected to continue for this year’s holiday shopping season. So it’s safe to assume that consumers will continue to shop more for the 2021 holiday season, both in-store and online. 

At the risk of becoming irrelevant for the 2021 holidays, it is crucial for retailers to have a more integrated digital approach with their physical stores to complement their online operations. 

This 2021, both retailers and consumers will navigate another unprecedented holiday shopping season.

Undoubtedly, factors such as unpredictable shopping behaviors and the ever-present dangers of another pandemic wave will make this holiday season all the more challenging for brands. 

As the world enters a new era of a post-pandemic marketplace, it is expected that the holiday shopping behavior of consumers will be a hybrid of what it was before and what the pandemic altered over the past year. 

Here are several key takeaways that brands need to keep in mind as they start planning for the 2021 holidays: 

KEY TAKEAWAY 1: The holiday shopping behavior of consumers this 2021 will be a mix of the old and new. 

As pandemic restrictions start to ease up and shoppers have become more confident about shopping in-store, it is expected that brands will have more traffic in their brick-and-mortar stores this year. Thus, brands with a solid in-store and online presence will gain a more competitive advantage this holiday season. Whether the brand offers hybrid shopping options like curbside pickup or uses localized video ad campaigns to target consumers near the store, any strategy that uses a seamless physical and digital experience will definitely resonate with consumers this year. 

KEY TAKEAWAY 2: It’s essential to plan ahead so that consumer packages will arrive when they expect them to. 

Delivery times and shipping rates are always critical for consumers when making their holiday purchase decisions. As another holiday pandemic season approaches, consumers expect brands to have their merchandising, fulfillment, and shipping operations at optimum capacity. To ensure that their purchases will arrive on time, holiday shoppers bought their gifts early to avoid shipping delays. This trend is expected to continue this year. 

KEY TAKEAWAY 3: This year’s holiday season is also expected to start early. 

In 2020, brands began to implement early holiday deals as a way to mitigate supply chain concerns and at the same time discourage a large influx of holiday shoppers in-store during the pandemic. This year, holiday shoppers are also expecting early deals, and they are ready to buy products sooner than they did before. As a result, brands can capitalize on the extended holiday season by finalizing their 2021 holiday marketing campaign as early as possible. Ideally, all video marketing campaigns should be ready by October so that brands can fully leverage their testing and automation tools. 

KEY TAKEAWAY 4: A solid foundation is critical to a successful holiday strategy.

Brands need to have all hands on deck when it comes to developing holiday campaigns. They need to look closely at their inventory and be productive about supply chain strain. On the digital side, brands should make an effort to optimize their organic presence by using personalization and localization video strategies. Providing personalized and localized video recommendations to their holiday shoppers will help brands create a genuine connection with their consumers. 

Video personalization and localization are a brand’s best weapon for cutting through the barrage of online holiday campaigns this year. Fortunately, video localization can easily be deployed in Shakr’s video creation platform. Shakr can automatically create dozens, hundreds, or thousands of personalized videos and deploy them immediately on social media. Your brand’s holiday video creative will surely reach the right audience at the right time during the holiday season. 

Trends to Expect for the 2021 Holidays

As technology and consumer behavior continue to shift for the upcoming holiday season, there are a few things to consider for holiday planning, such as sales targets, video ads testing, content calendar planning, and marketing budget discussions. 

While there are expected challenges this year, the key takeaways from the 2020 holidays will serve as a springboard for brands to be even more prepared for the 2021 holiday season. Here are some trends to keep in mind as brands form and execute their holiday marketing strategy: 

TREND 1: Online and mobile shopping will continue to be a key driver for brand discovery. 

A solid eCommerce and social media presence were essential for the 2020 holidays. As the line between in-store and digital shopping continues to be blurred, this trend is expected to continue for this year’s holiday season. Consumers are spending more time browsing websites and shopping apps rather than the typical window shopping in stores. 

Facebook’s 2021 Holiday Unwrapped data showed that 47% of Gen Z and Millennials discovered shopping ideas or browsed for inspiration on a mobile device. The study also showed that 43% of holiday shoppers discovered ideas or browsed for inspiration on a mobile device.

TREND  2: A seamless online shopping experience is needed to sustain consumer interest. 

In the age of online convenience, holiday shoppers have come to expect perks like free and fast shipping in just one click. While this may not be realistic for all types of brands, a seamless online shopping experience can help cut through holiday shopping challenges. Shoppers this year will prioritize convenience, and they will be attracted to brands that provide ease of ordering and delivery. 

TREND  3: Promotional opportunities will happen sooner than before on social media. 

Consumers last year shopped earlier to make sure that their gifts will arrive on time. With so many unknown variables brought by the pandemic, it is expected that consumers will begin planning their holiday shopping as early as October, if not sooner. As a result, holiday shoppers will be keen on finding promotions and sales on social media. 

As such, it’s expected that digital acceleration will have another extended eCommerce-driven holiday season this 2021. Pent-up demand from at-home consumers may result in earlier holiday purchases. Brands need to start connecting to their target audience across digital channels as early as now. 

TREND 4: With the continued demand for safety and accessibility, the roles of brick-and-mortar stores and digital are reversing. 

Curbside pickups, buy online pick up in-store (BOPUS), and contactless delivery will still be an enduring best practice for this year’s holiday shopping experience. These options provide a safe shopping experience for consumers. Consequently, digital shopping is becoming more immersive as consumers seek to replicate in-store shopping experiences at home. 

In this new hybrid shopping experience, brands need to provide a convenient and frictionless shopping experience. With augmented reality try-ons, personalized recommendations, styling, and how-to videos, brands need to find ways to bring in-store experiences online and digital experiences in-store. 

TREND 5: Consumers are discovering and purchasing on social media via videos more than ever. 

The concept of online discovery may not be new. However, the way it occurs is deliberately changing. At-home consumers turn to social media for personalized inspiration and curated local recommendations. Brands need to leverage social media as inspiration and discovery platforms. Spark an interest for the brand through video ads that provide personalized and localized content. 

Shakr can help brands plan early for the holiday season with locally relevant video campaigns at scale. In addition, Shakr will help create a unique and customized creative video that can be deployed to multiple locations during this year’s holidays.

Related Content: Five tips to get the most out of your Facebook Ads during this year’s Mega Sales Days

Steps to Prepare for the 2021 Holidays

Now more than ever, it is crucial for brands to create compelling video ad content with a seamless shopping experience built for online discovery. Based on the 2020 holiday shopping insights, brands should plan their video marketing strategy accordingly. 

Understanding how consumers’ habits have changed since the height of the pandemic will help brands thrive this upcoming holiday season. As consumers spend more time planning their holiday festivities, they also spend more time looking at other gift offerings. 

Consumers have shifted purchasing behavior from going holiday shopping to “always shopping” for the holidays. As such, video ads on social media will serve as an essential tool for consumers to discover new products and brands. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making sure that your brand is ready for the upcoming holidays: 

Step 1: Understand seasonal drivers.

Seasonality refers to any predictable fluctuation that occurs during the same weeks leading up to the holiday season. 

Seasonal events fall under these three main categories: 

  • Cultural Events (Examples: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Lunar New Year)
  • Commercial Events (Examples: Black Friday, Mother’s Day, Amazon Prime Day)
  • Ad hoc Events (Examples: sporting tournaments, elections, local holidays

Seasonal fluctuations during these events are primarily driven by:

  • Consumers: Internet traffic increases during the holidays as holiday shoppers spend more time online consuming video content or purchasing gifts.
  • Brand Marketers: Competition for inventory increases as marketers launch their holiday campaigns to promote the brand during the peak season.

Step 2: Know the calendar and start prepping early. 

Seasonal increases in traffic begin in September, peak in late November, and drop back to normal in January.

Start prepping the brand’s content calendar as early as possible. Keep in mind that holiday opportunities will largely depend on your target audience. Take note of all the Mega Sale Dates that your consumers care about. It’s an excellent opportunity for the brand to increase sales and gain new consumers who are looking for deals and promos. 

Step 3: Optimize your digital platforms. 

Make sure that all digital assets are in top shape to prepare for increased user traffic. 

A large base of holiday shoppers this 2021 can be found mainly on social media. Therefore, brands must update their social channels and optimize other digital touchpoints that their consumers visit. Plan digital assets for the holidays effectively by shifting focus to video personalization and localization. Ensure that the online shopping experience of consumers is personalized and locally relevant. It will make them feel more compelled to learn more about the brand and make a purchase eventually. 

Step 4: Prepare for seasonal opportunities.

Make sure that your video ads and content calendar are ready to benefit from the expected increase in viewership by leveraging on video DPAs (dynamic product ads).

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to attract new consumers. One way of doing that is to leverage video DPAs by expanding the brand’s presence on social media. Improve the brand’s “discoverability” by providing video content relevant to local consumers for the holiday season. Location-based video creative personalization is an effective strategy for brands who want to increase the results of their holiday campaigns. With Shakr Local, brands can create hyper-localized creatives and set up their campaigns on social media instantly. 

Step 5: Monitor and track performance.

Use Shakr’s tools to track video ad performance throughout the holiday season.

With Shakr’s intuitive video creation platform, brands are empowered to create high-quality videos that can be deployed instantly on social media. To get the most out of your brand’s video ads, Shakr lets brands create geo-based variations of videos for different locations. It can also help set up and traffic the brand’s hyper-local campaign at scale with personalized video creatives for 10, 100, or 1,000 different locations. In addition, Shakr enables brands to create dynamic campaigns from their holiday product catalogs. Once the holiday campaign goes live, Shakr will help the brand analyze creative performance and video iterations. 

It’s time to start planning those holiday video ads for 2021!

Let Shakr help you create holiday videos at scale with Shakr Local. We’re here to help you create personalized and localized video marketing campaigns for the holidays. 

Shakr Local at Scale can help businesses connect with people in a whole new meaningful way with our top-notch hyper-local campaign creative at scale. 

Locally relevant ads are perceived to be highly personalized and can dramatically increase local businesses’ consumer engagement. 

Schedule a discovery call with us now!


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Sarah Davis, S. (2021). 2021 Holiday Shopping Ecommerce Stats & Trends [August 2021] – ROI Revolution. Retrieved 26 August 2021, from https://www.roirevolution.com/blog/2021/08/2021-holiday-shopping-ecommerce-stats-trends-june-2021/

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Slye is an inbound marketing professional who specializes in growth-focused content marketing. He is the Managing Director at Content Hacker.

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