(Editor’s note: This story is part of a recurring series of commentaries from professionals connected to the hemp industry. Jackie Berg is co-founder of CBD Marketing Hub, a digital-to-door agency focused on CBD and cannabis marketing.)
Consumers have bigger budgets for the holiday season, and the payoff can be significant for online and brick-and-mortar CBD and cannabis brands.
Consumers plan to spend “generously” this year, according to an Accenture survey, which found that 71% of consumers intend to spend as much or more than they did last year.
This year’s holiday shopping cart will be up 9% from last year’s COVID Christmas season, when consumers spent $1.2 trillion between November and the end of the year, according to Deloitte’s annual forecast.
There is some disagreement among experts as to where the bulk of the holiday take will land.
Deloitte Vice Chairman Rod Sides is betting on online channels versus brick-and-mortar stores. His company is projecting 11% to 15% increases in 2021 online holiday spending.
Other experts disagree, betting consumers who prefer to shop local, crave a more personalized experience, and want to avoid shipping delays will return to brick-and-mortar businesses.
Brands will need to be even more targeted and creative in their approach, but they’ll also need to get started earlier than ever to capture consumer spending among the 51% of shoppers who plan to start holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, according to market research by The NPD Group.
Small shops bring big meaning
Main Street merchants will continue to play an elevated role in this year’s shopping season, according to personal finance management analyst Mint, which reports that more than 70% of holiday shoppers plan to spend more locally.
That’s good news for CBD and cannabis brands, 97% which fit within the U.S. Small Business Administration’s classification of a small business.
For shoppers, that local moniker offers an important and valuable distinction. Why?
In addition to employing nearly half (47.3 %) of America’s workforce, small businesses reflect the unique character of city neighborhoods.
Bottom line: Small businesses are a mirror of ourselves and an embodiment of the American dream and, therefore, are deserving of mindful support.
Big bundles and personal indulgences
People aren’t hibernating over the holiday this year, according to numerous reports that indicate this year’s holiday giving will be packed with big giving events characterized by more face-to-face gatherings than ever, along with significant travel.
Evidence abounds that the more than 31 million holiday travelers grounded due to COVID last year, won’t likely be staying home again this year.
Holiday shoppers seek smaller, more meaningful gifts to support well-being, according to retail experts, who say that storytelling and products that personify emotional experiences will be key in 2021.
But one-size-fits-all messaging will not work during another pandemic holiday season.
Considering Quantum Metric reports that more than 64% of Americans say this holiday season will be more important and emotional than prior years brands should avoid heavy-handed, commercial messaging.
A Wall Street Journal report says this year’s consumer sentiment is leaning toward making up for last year’s lost holiday time. Celebrations will center around consumers’ desires to reconnect and re-institute time-honored family traditions.
The emotional spend is driving up consumers’ expected budgets over $1,000.
Health-oriented promotions and products that build emotional connections will win in 2021, according to retail experts who report mental health and wellness is on trend this holiday season.
Online shoppers will be looking for more convenience and personalized consultations. Some have begun to offer video chats, which enable a more intimate way to promote product videos and highlight product features and functions.
Skincare, haircare and bath-and-body products, which NPD reported skyrocketed during the pandemic, will continue to trend well in 2021.
Convenience, packaging key to success
Consumers now accustomed to curbside pick-up and BOPIS (buy online and pick-up in-store) solutions are less likely to give up the convenience, particularly during the busy holiday season.
Coupled with skyrocketing postal and shipping rates, online retailers that enjoyed a decided edge in the pandemic economy now face increased pressures to mitigate costs and related delivery delays. Meanwhile, they must still satisfy the consumer appetite for speed and convenience.
CBD and cannabis brands should consider creating consumer bundles that convey care, moving far beyond the attractively priced bundle that delivers little in the way of experience.
Whether they bundle CBD bath bombs nestled in a basket with a loofah or create a “sleepcation” kit, complete with CBN, a sleep mask and soothing chamomile CBD tea, gift bundles need to convey comfort, warmth and a long-awaited hug.
Even pain products can nudge their way into holiday promotions with appropriate packaging and recovery-related messaging.
CBD and cannabis brands with apparel lines have the perfect opportunity to creatively package items, like a running cap and recovery rub bundle. Messaging matters.
Start planning and scheduling media now. Brands can expect to see a flood of media placements from competitors trying to make up for losses in 2020.
Earlier holiday season sales should also help avoid fulfillment crunches late in the holiday season.
In 2020, more than 71% of U.S. adults did half their holiday shopping online. In such a crowded landscape, targeting is essential.
Cyber holiday campaigns are nearly a market mandate and must be started earlier than ever.
Target health and wellness
Countless studies show that the pandemic has elevated the importance of well-being and maintaining good mental health. No one may feel the weight of that more than moms,who make most household decisions about family health.
Among those still feeling the highest level of COVID-19 stressors are Millennial moms, 97% of whom told Motherly that they feel more stressed-out than ever.
Targeting experts recommend CBD and cannabis brands focus on Millennial moms, ages 23 to 39, who are interested in yoga, fitness and natural solutions this holiday season.
Meanwhile, clinical insomnia rates jumped 37% since the start of the pandemic, according to Sleep Magazine. Supermarket News reports sales for sleep remedy products increased more than 20%.
Using compliant advertising products like keyword searches, brands can meet advertising guidelines, while focusing in on targeted searches around need states like sleep. This helps redirect hundreds of thousands of consumer searches for over-the-counter and general sleep solutions to their products.
Fueling market alignment
Cyber holiday sales can help make up for revenue losses during the pandemic, invite lapsed customers to return, and retain new customers gained from COVID-19 related shifts in digital-shopping patterns.
Recent projections show that downward pricing pressures will characterize the fourth quarter and likely continue through the second quarter of 2022.
CBD brands must adjust their product mix, messaging, marketing and promotion to meet emerging trends.
On average, 40%of website visitors leave a brand’s website without registering an email address. During the cyber sales season, that number jumps even higher.
With so much emphasis on driving digital sales activity, CBD and cannabis brands need a mechanism to identify, track and remarket to anonymous website visitors.
CBD and cannabis brands can multiply the impact of cyber holiday sales and achieve higher return on advertising spend through remarketing.
Jackie Berg can be reached at [email protected].
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