Make the holiday cash registers sing

The 2012 holiday season delivers an ongoing challenge for retailers. How can they bring a little cheer to the unpredictable and somewhat dismal results we’ve become accustomed to over the past four years? It’s a tall order for brands and marketers to successfully usher consumers into the holiday spirit and then also get the cash register to sing—but there are indeed ways to combat the holiday retail blues. Here are three simple tips to making your brand’s in-store experience a holiday hit:

1. Harness the power of play. As shoppers search for markdowns, discounts, and sales, a great experience can be the added value that gives your brand a competitive advantage. JWT says: “no longer regarded as a time waster, play will find more support among adults who recognize that unstructured play balances out today’s plethora of organized and tech-based activities.” As consumers cut back on costly holiday trips, dinners, and parties they’ll look to the annual shopping trip to provide those experiences. Make shopping a celebration of the season and your brand stands to win big. Otherwise consumers will wisely save on gas money and shop online.

2. Nostalgia is better than new. As brands continually innovate in order to stay ahead, some brands are looking back at their growth strategy. 2012 saw a resurgence of classic toys from previous generations. The Easy Bake Oven, My Little Pony, and Mr. Potato Head all got a second shot as brands that produce felt it safer to provide extensions of proven winners than risk launching a new product in uncertain economic times. The experiences that retailers offer this time of year should follow suit. Instead of focusing solely on hands-free shopping and the latest advances in touch screens, rather allow consumers to enjoy a moment to reminisce with products with which they already have an emotional attachment. Their preexisting memories make these brands more valuable, so providing in-store experiences that highlight those positive emotions will prove successful.

3. Gratitude is the new greed. With less focus on flashy must-haves, consumers are using the holidays to concentrate on meaningful gifts that express thanks for the positives they have in their life, like friends and family. Smart retailers will provide easy ways for consumers to add a personal message or detail to their gift, thereby bolstering less expensive presents with a valuable commemorative element.

Ben Roth is senior vice president of creative services at MKTG INC, New York.

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