4 Things CPG Brands Must Do Now to Prepare for the Holiday Shopping Season

In “The Year of the Unprecedented,” it seems perfectly appropriate that the upcoming holiday shopping season is shaping up to be, well, unprecedented! While I agree that hyperboles become meaningless faster than the time it takes you to order and receive your groceries from Instacart, it doesn’t change the fact that this year is extraordinarily unique. In addition to the economic downturn and global pandemic that is currently engulfing us, this uniqueness stems from Amazon delaying its infamous Prime Day shopping holiday from July to October.

As the CPG industry continues to deal with challenges brought about by COVID-19, combined with an already challenging stretch of Halloween, the “Turkey Five” and Christmas, brands should expect the unexpected. This article will highlight four things CPG brands must do now to prepare for the 2020 holiday shopping season, which already looks a lot different than it has in years past.

Consider Zooming Out

When you are caught in the endless loop of this COVID-19 “new normal” life, it might be hard to realize that everything around you has drastically changed. (This might sound awfully funny, because you’re currently sitting in the middle of your living room working while your kid is in the kitchen taking classes over Zoom, but it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day.) My advice is to stop, breath and consider how you can adapt your holiday shopping season plan to ride this tidal wave better than Laird Hamilton.

Reality is, no one can truly know with certainty what this holiday will hold for CPG brands. However, an early survey from Morning Consult shows that many holiday celebrations will look very different this year, if they happen at all. It’s important to remember that COVID-19 hasn’t had a “one-size-fits-all” impact on the American consumer, so your target customer should inform the best approach to strategically tackling this unique holiday season. Some might be seeking assistance in stretching budgets, while others are seeking more convenience. Regardless, brands that stay in the moment and offer their customers socially relevant solutions to challenges will be in the best position to take advantage of this unique holiday shopping season.

Avoid Terrorizing Consumers with Empty Shelves Again

Let’s be honest: Consumers have dealt with enough stock issues this year. I’m still having nightmares about needing to learn origami with my last rolls of toilet paper while my neighbors build thrones with their epic stash and show it off in viral Instagram photos. Fact is, when shopping for CPGs, consumers expect to find what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and at a price they are willing to pay for it. That sounds simple enough, right?

While it might seem like a basic concept, this year taught CPG professionals that consistently staying in stock across retailers is anything but easy. Striking the right inventory balance has always been a mix of art and science for CPG brands, but this year it has turned into a Meow Wolf art installation. This is due to numerous factors, including:

  • Elevated CPG spending: Monthly retail numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau have shown that grocery stores and non-store retailers (e-commerce) are the only categories with consistent year-over-year economic growth.
  • Human capital constraints: Due to warehousing and essential retail operations still being predominately manual, the health of humans during a pandemic has slowed inbound and outbound efficiencies across CPG omnichannel and e-commerce retailers.
  • Amazon Inventory Performance Index (IPI): FBA sellers will only be allowed to store a restricted amount of SKU-specific inventory based on a number of factors determined by Amazon.

To overcome these challenges, CPG brands should consider a number of modalities that create redundancies with inventory availability. These include ensuring your business can fulfill e-commerce orders through owned warehousing capabilities or third-party logistics outsourcing, while also considering ramping up supply of anticipated or established hero products.

Divert Marketing Budgets

There is no debating that the majority of CPG purchasing will continue to happen inside the four walls of physical retailers for the 2020 holiday shopping season. Even so, there has never been a period in history where the pendulum has swung closer towards the importance of winning the digital channel than this year.

Because of that, marketing budget allocations by channel should be re-evaluated based on predicted consumer habits, which show that almost 3 out of 4 Americans plan to do more than half of their holiday shopping online in 2020. With most retail partners now leaning heavily into providing an omnichannel shopping experience for consumers, CPG brands would be best served by distributing advertising spend towards retailer e-commerce programs or third-party partners like Instacart.

Optimize Product Content

Do you remember that infomercial for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie? The one that told you to “set it and forget it”? Well, that’s the exact opposite of what your CPG brand should be doing to optimize your product content. Product content optimization should be viewed internally as a process, not a project.

While it might not make sense to completely overhaul the copy on your high-performing product listings for the holiday shopping season, fluctuations in search behavior can provide opportunities to rank for new keywords. Taking advantage of these opportunities can be as simple as strategically optimizing your content for common seasonal search terms such as “holiday snacks” or longtail keywords such as “pumpkin spice savory snacks” to ensure your products have maximum visibility in results. Maximum visibility should be the ultimate goal, as 70% of consumers never scroll past the first page of search results on digital retailers like Amazon.

Once you’ve optimized your content for non-branded holiday search terms, help convert those clicks into sales by showcasing common seasonal uses for the product in the copy and image carousels, as holiday shoppers are often looking for inspiration.

OneSpace Can Help

OneSpace helps CPG brands centralize, optimize and publish product content that wins top position on the digital shelf. By combining e-commerce search data and content optimization tools with software for content storage and syndication, OneSpace’s Product Merchandising Platform helps brands increase organic search visibility and conversions across multiple online retailers at scale. Contact us to see how we can help your brand stand out online this holiday season.

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