Seasonal trends during the pandemic, and what it could mean for holiday

Raffaella Fornarelli, Rishi Lakhanpal / October 2020

In the lead-up to the 2020 holiday shopping season, most marketers are asking the same types of questions: What will demand be like this year? What will consumers be buying? When is the best time to reach them?

While you’d need a crystal ball to answer any of these questions, looking back to previous holidays throughout the pandemic and back-to-school shopping trends could shed some light on why it’s important for marketers to stay flexible this year.

People want to send gifts to loved ones

People are looking for ways to send gifts to loved ones on sentimental holidays. On Mother’s Day, when many regions were still under strict physical distancing regulations and unable to gather or head out to a store, people still searched for Mother’s Day gifts but looked to online and delivery. In April, searches for "mothers day gifts" grew globally by over 200% in one week1 and during the week of Mother’s Day this year, search interest for “last minute mother's day gifts” spiked.

This holiday season, it’s important for marketers to promote products and gift cards earlier.

With strict physical restrictions in place then, it’s likely that last-minute shopping drove more traffic towards online channels. This holiday season, promote products and gift cards earlier.

People search online for new ways to celebrate

Easter was one of the first holidays to occur during the pandemic lockdown in Canada, and while it was nothing like previous years, trends show people were looking to celebrate it — and shop for it — in new ways. Searches relating to "online Easter,” such as “online Easter shopping," grew globally by over 100% in a week.2

Chocolate eggs, bunnies and other inexpensive Easter treats are the types of products that in previous years, would often be purchased in-store. However, with more people looking for contactless ways to buy them, retailers can find creative ways to bundle, deliver and help make it worth the ROI.

Marketers should prepare for unexpected product trends

As children and teachers across Canada headed back to school last month (in-person and virtual), many marketers may have prepared for the usual spikes in product categories like backpacks. However, in the first week of September there was a surprising spike in search interest around home office setups, including “kids desk” which rose more than 600% YoY,3 and “desk chair” which was up 300% YoY.4 These numbers are even higher than at the start of the pandemic in March, when schools and offices shut down and people were scrambling to get set up at home.

Kick off flexible marketing strategies as soon as possible, so you can catch demand when it’s there and shift if things change.

This holiday, it’s important to think about how the pandemic could impact holiday shopping and the range of potential scenarios that could impact which products trend. Kick off flexible marketing strategies as soon as possible, so you can catch demand when it’s there and shift if things change. Marketers should check in on search trends often throughout the holiday shopping season and enlist the help of automation to quickly adjust and remove some of the guesswork.

While looking back at holidays during the pandemic can be helpful, it will be important to keep close to trends, website analytics, news and other sources of real-time insights and shift strategies accordingly.

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