November 23, 2020
Brand marketers and consumers alike are entering a confusing holiday season, one like never before. What has always been a spend-obsessed time of year is now facing pinched consumer wallets in some cases—and in others, stored-up discretionary income and a desire to reward family members with a big Christmas during an incredibly tough year.
Among the factors entering this year’s season are brands’ desire to recoup lost revenue in Q4 and retailers turning their backs on the typical one-day shopping rush, instead leaning into the lengthened timeline to account for the increase in expected shipping needs, among other concerns.
We spoke with influencers about what they are anticipating over the next uncertain weeks through the end of the year. Here’s what we learned.
When coronavirus hit, brands across the board quickly pulled budgets. But as we enter the end of the year, they are singing a new tune, now spilling unspent marketing dollars before January hits. And some are still relying on the ‘COVID card’ to explain lessened contract fees for the same desired level of influencer content.
“[Brands] are still asking for everything, if not more than they have in the past,” said Brock Keen of 996roadtrip. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I have a business background and I know the money is there.” He added that brands are trying to “play the COVID card to flex this a little bit more.”
All-in-all, it’s weakening the trust that influencers place in brand partners.
Influencers are experiencing an unexpected uptick in inbound requests from local businesses. They reported feeling more open to working with local businesses on smaller opportunities than they may have during a typical holiday season. Further, influencers are more willing to stretch themselves to do more for their brand partners that are planning charitable efforts this season. The opposite is true for big brands with deep pockets—and influencers are less likely to want to support their marketing efforts this season.
Audrey Kuether of Oh So Lovely Blog said that supporting local businesses is bringing the community of Kansas City together. “Everyone in Kansas City is rallying behind all the local businesses, which has been kind of cool,” she said. “We are trying to put our money back into our own city and not as much into Amazon’s pockets,” adding that the shift is something that grew in the past couple of months starting with the shutdown.
“The small, local brands are looking for any way to get out there,” said Brock Keen. “I’d love to work with all of these brands, but authenticity is a big thing for me. So, I have tried to use smaller brands in little promotions, tiny plugs to help get things off the ground for them.”
The focus on locality is bigger than just shopping behavior. Local has taken on a new importance for the U.S. consumer, resulting in increased local travel, local interest, pride of place, and more.
The influencers reported seeing interest from their social communities in larger luxury purchases this holiday season. Against all odds—given circumstances surrounding the pandemic—each recalled instances in their social followings where consumers have increased interest in higher-end purchases, citing that consumers are seeking opportunities to treat themselves this holiday season, largely around purchases that encourage quality time.
Laura Nielsen of LoLo’s Desserts has noticed her followers going for high-ticket cooking items like the famous KitchenAid mixer. Normally an item that tops registry lists or qualifies as a major purchase, Nielsen reported that her following is more inclined to treat themselves to one this year.
Brock Keen cited an increased interest in high-end camping supplies among his audience of campers and adventurers. Some examples include titanium mugs and premium outdoor chairs—even an outdoor pizza oven totaling near $600. He added that his audience is purchasing luxury outdoor items even if they aren’t planning a trip, just to enhance the backdrop of their yards for their families.
“People aren’t really afraid to spend money right now,” said Audrey Kuether. “People are not really slowing down that much on their spending.”
With uncertainty surrounding getting together for holiday activities and events this year, influencers are focused on creating content that reminds us all of holiday traditions that bring a feeling of warmth and fond memories.
“I am focused more on sharing traditions, even if it is just for your immediate family,” said Laura Nielsen. She added that her social community is filled with parents looking for activities appropriate for children, and aims to meet their needs by posting recipes and projects that encourage quality time at home.
Learn more about The Everything In-Between Influencer Network
To contact the author, email Kathleen Al-Marhoon at firstname.lastname@example.org
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