Based on earlier reports after the start of the pandemic, consumer attitudes and habits have changed. What does this portend for companies like Christmas Central, which receives 75% of its annual revenue from holiday sales? This online merchant that also sells through Amazon and Walmart began preparing for the holiday season in October , more than a year early. And while it experienced a 75% spike in 2019 holiday sales, it still is forecasting an increase of 25% this holiday season.
Why the optimism?
Christmas Central is part of Gordon Companies, which also owns PoolCentral.com. Like swimming pool contractors, this company that sells outdoor furniture and a variety of outdoor recreational equipment and supplies has seen a huge increase in traffic. Sales increased more than 500% during the pandemic and was even up 300% in late June as some states began easing CVID-19 restrictions. Easter, the 4th of July and other spring and summer holidays led the rise. A spokesperson said their April and May sales equaled those of their normal holiday season.
Part of Christmas Central’s success is attributed to preparation. The firm analyzes what sold well the previous year and what they believe could be a good seller in the approaching season. They also make sure to place their orders with suppliers by March 1 to ensure they get product well in advance of the holidays. And to prepare for the crunch, they hire and train 150 seasonal employees for their fulfilment centers. The company presently has four fulfillment centers in the U.S. and plans to add two more shortly to meet anticipated demand.
Another thing Christmas Central is doing to keep pace with the expected demand is analyzing and adjusting its workflow pattern. COVID-19 and rules like social distancing have caused them to consider such things like ensuring that merchandise is being processed efficiently and smoothly through their staggered work shifts.
A spokesperson for Gordon Companies said they’ve changed their messaging since the pandemic. Instead of “blatantly pushing goods at people”, said Laura Gordon, their ads are more about community and how they’re helping others. She added that Christmas Central spent less on advertising since the pandemic but is reaping four times the return.
In preparing for the holidays, Gordon revealed that their ads will focus on making time spent at home special in recognition of the concerns many people may have about holiday travel or imposed travel restrictions. Their focus will be on brightening up the holidays with new holiday décor to make Christmas special.
Christmas Central also discovered that its recent partnership with Pinterest has greatly expanded its reach and interest. What’s been particularly appealing have been their blogs, ranging from how to keep the kids entertained while quarantined to other ways to use their outdoor patio furniture. The brand also advertises on Google, Facebook, Instagram and Bing.
Why is Christmas Central a good role model? Ecommerce and research company Digital Commerce 360 analyzes and rates more than 4,000 digital commerce businesses each year. Christmas Central ranked 910 in the firm’s 2020 list of top 1000 digital companies.
Tips on Creating Holiday PR
As the end of the year is slowly inching closer, it’s time for companies to create brand new and shiny holiday campaigns to promote themselves and their solutions. Implementing the right strategies can generate positive attention from consumers while creating buzz around the holidays, and it can do so without adding more stress to a season that is already stressful for many.
As the holidays are drawing near, many companies are working hard at securing coverage related to the industry and the holiday, which poses a different set of challenges compared to the rest of the year. There’s a lot of increased competition yet the spaces in editorial calendars are quite limited because the holiday season is relatively short.
Fortunately, there are some strategies that can help both companies as well as PR professionals get that coveted media coverage and promote their holiday offerings to consumers the right way.
Including Employees in PR Campaigns
A great way that companies can appeal to their target audiences around the holiday season is with the help of their employees, who can use their voice to get the company’s message out to the consumers. Creating holiday well wishes or greetings from various employees, especially if they have diverse backgrounds, means that the company can appeal to multiple nationalities that are represented inside and outside of the business. This way, the brand can strengthen its image and relationship with consumers, especially because the holidays are a time of gratitude and unity.
Another way that companies can create holiday PR is by engaging with their target audience through content. The holiday seasons are a great way to offer games or contests to connect with consumers. Audiences can be encouraged to participate in games and contests, and share the content with their own social circles.
Next, a great way to get the attention of both the target audience and relevant media outlets is by creating social responsibility programs and partnering with charitable organizations, so that both parties create holiday giving activities for consumers. This way, both the organization and the company can benefit from positive media coverage during times of high PR needs. The company can direct its consumers to make purchases and donate a part of the revenue to the charitable organization. It can even directly ask consumers to make their own donations, while the business doubles whatever sum is donated from consumers with its own funds.
Utilizing Products for Media Coverage
Finally, another beneficial strategy that companies can utilize for holiday PR is to approach media outlets or journalists themselves. Since the holidays are a gift-giving season, plenty of bloggers and journalists are looking for different gift ideas for their holiday gift guides. Recommending one of the company’s products, especially one that’s suitable to give others as a gift, means that not only will the product receive positive media coverage, but that the company will benefit too. In fact, the company can also take it a step further and mention that a portion of the sales will be donated to a charitable organization to encourage audiences to make a purchase as well as feel good about it.