Marketers should be setting sights for Holidays and beyond

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I don't think anyone needed the official government pro­nouncement that we have been in a recession since last De­cember. As DMNews has reported, consumers are abandoning credit and using cash, debit and other alternatives, such as layaway, to pay for purchases. And, while there was a slight in­crease in retail sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, the result may only be a blip in a tough season for retailers.

But it wasn't for lack of trying. In addition to the usual hype over Black Friday, the push and expectations for Cyber Mon­day were on the rise this year. And, some ambitious marketers made a pitch for Mobile Tuesday, hoping to extend the week­end shopping drive with coupons delivered on cell phones.

ShopperTrak, a provider of retail information, reported that combined Black Friday/Black Saturday sales increased 1.9% over last year. Consumers appeared open to buying, lured by deep discounts retailers were forced to offer to get them in the door. But, in the final analysis, according to some analysts, the sales results may have been undercut by those very discounts. And more notably, customers may be holding out for even further price cuts. But how much lower can retailers go?

As Dianna Dilworth reports in this week's Optimized sec­tion, many retailers are boosting their digital efforts to engage customers this holiday season (see story, pg. 10). And, as ComScore reports, online sales did do better, jumping 15% on Cyber Monday. But what about January and beyond?

If we are truly in this for some time to come, marketers will increasingly need to develop more long-term strategies not only to attract new customers but retain the ones they have. Loyalty programs and other incentives should be a primary emphasis, as well as innovative outreach to target customers in all media. Marketers should start laying a strategic ground­work now, before the holiday season is over.

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