How is holiday shopping going to be different in 2021? Kathryn Hayman, Vice President of Brand Integration, Bollare Communications, anticipates an early start as a result of supply chain issues and consumers craving an in-person shopping experience. Kathryn also discusses how influencers can bring engaging in-person shopping experiences through social media.
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About the Host:
HOST: DOUG SIMON
GUEST: KATHRYN HAYMAN
DOUG: So, how is holiday shopping going to be different this year than it was last year?
KATHRYN: Holiday shopping is going to be different this year than it was last year in three ways. Mainly one, people are really craving that holiday shopping experience, physical, in-store. Two, supply chain issues. And three, it’s starting earlier than you ever imagined.
DOUG: Yeah, and those sound like they’re related, let’s try to take them one at a time. People are now craving the in-store experience. They didn’t really get that last year because it was so controlled. What are some ways you can promote that?
KATHRYN: People are really craving that in-store shopping experience, having a list, checking it twice for their loved ones. And a way that you can promote that is by being very cognizant of the market as well as the demographic that you’re speaking to. Now, more than ever markets are vastly different, according to what rules and regulations are for COVID. So, you need to be really cognizant of who you’re talking to and how you’re approaching it. As far as promoting online shopping, I think you’re going to see a ton happening earlier and earlier than ever, and it’s going to be around sales. That first major pivot, that first drop, is Black Friday. And I think we’re going to see a major swing. It’s almost going to be a week earlier, starting this year. That’s a big change. And that’s another way that your brands can really promote Black Friday is through getting ahead of it and speaking to the consumer early about what you’re planning, what deals to expect, and how to shop them.
DOUG: Yeah, and some of the motivation for shoppers might be because of all the news they’re hearing about supply chain. I mean, I actually hear that that’s becoming a popular drinking game on college campuses now but worries that things if you would order closer to the holiday, might not get delivered on time. There are those issues that are top of mind, so people might be rushing to shop a little earlier than they normally would be. How is that changing? How organizations, brands, agencies, and how you’re advising people to promote you have to start earlier? And how do you make that resonate with the media?
KATHRYN: Yeah, the supply chain impact is greater than it’s ever been. It’s quite unique to this period of time and kind of the ripple effect of what we’re seeing across COVID and what’s happening at the ports. I will say, I think there is a silver lining and that I’ve heard of a lot of companies that have made some really clever decisions and are getting around some of the delays and issues, various avenues they pursued, and they’re able to get through. So, before we really create a dynamic that’s so doomsday, I do think that as with human nature, most people come up with really great solutions to kind of work through challenges and problems. People are going to be shopping in-store because they want to physically touch things, see what’s available to them, what that looks like. The shopping deadlines are going to be sooner. What will make it to them? They can’t necessarily count on, right, so they don’t want to miss out on gifts for their loved ones. That’s the worst feeling ever. So, they will be going in store and doing a combination of shopping early, and those Black Friday deals will be coming out earlier as well.
DOUG: Now, you’ve been a big fan and your firm is very in touch with the media and what they’re thinking and what’s going on. Is media and getting it earned media is going to play an important role this holiday season? Maybe more important than it’s been? And are there are opportunities for more types of stories because of the changing environment?
KATHRYN: That’s a great question. Absolutely, and we are seeing, with Bollare, so much of it comes down to contacts and what we’re hearing from the press right now it has been for weeks is this question of what are you doing for Black Friday? What are your brands doing for Black Friday? What are the promotions that you’re putting out? And they’re already asking, that’s not even Halloween. Typically, we are giving this a couple more weeks, but people and the press are really interested in what brands are doing because they also know from their side that this is what people want to hear about. They want to plan it out.
DOUG: Yeah, and this sounds like you’re not just talking about the long lead publications and outlets, which obviously you had to prepare a while back, but even outlets that can turn it around quicker. One of the things a lot of agency people talk about is sort of their own secret sauce, if you will. Just as all sorts of brands position themselves, agencies position themselves as well. How would you describe your own secret sauce? And maybe you can talk a little bit about process for others who may be tuning in, how to think of and determine what their own secret sauce is.
Kathryn: Bollare’s secret sauce is evergreen, it’s a proven recipe. It transcends the holiday season. I think really what we do is we hire passionate people that are experts in their respective spaces, whether that’s press or storytelling or KOL, influencer relations, content creation, as well as licensing and collaboration. And then second, we staff according to interests. Which I think is a genius strategy to ensure that your team is engaged and knowledgeable and completely dialed in to what your clients are promoting and what they stand for. And then thirdly, Bollare has an in-house expert, Alle Fister, the founder. She’s appeared on over 100 broadcast outlets. That’s a massive asset to our clients. They really value that. They have a trusted advocate that knows their brand priorities backwards and forwards, as well as how to navigate some of the intricacies of the broadcast world.
DOUG: Despite the rumors, I did not go to school with Harold Berson, but I did get a chance to interview him. And interestingly, as you talked about your secret sauce, one of his key things he said when he started the firm was to make sure people really understood the industries they’re working with in depth. He wanted people to understand the businesses of the companies they work with so they can really be successful in that. One of the other things that my team members were talking about, especially for younger people and PR people who are more involved with social media aspect when there isn’t a physical in-store experience as much, are we creating it, how do you use influencers to sort of create the feel of that in-store personal experience? I know that’s another area you have expertise in.
KATHRYN: Yes, we work pretty dynamically across KOL key opinion leader, digital influencers, content creators. I think a lot of what people have experienced, especially over the last year and a half, especially since the boom of TikTok, is this sort of virtual escape that you do through influencers, right? So, I think when it pertains to holidays and holiday shopping and connecting with your customers, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for influencers to go in-store, show their followers what they can expect, show them special experiences that they’re having, what they’re picking out, what they love, if they have a special edit or collection that they’re really fond of and really bringing that to life through them. And then the way that you bring it to a broader audience is by allowing there to be a swipe up or how to shop that collection, whether that’s physical or digital, it gives people options.
DOUG: That’s great, and as we wrap up the segment, do you have any final thoughts? I can tell you’re optimistic by nature. I think everyone sort of is hopeful that will be a good holiday shopping season with the way the economy is going and more opportunities to engage both online and in-person. Any final thoughts to wrap up the segment?
KATHRYN: I do think this is going to be a really special holiday season. I think people have been through a lot over the past year and a half, and they’re looking forward to celebrating and showing their gratitude for others. And the holidays are the perfect time to do that. So, I really do think that customers are going to be engaging and so excited to shop for this holiday season.
DOUG: Right. Well, I’m so excited to get this piece out so a lot of people can see it and learn from your wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas with us.
KATHRYN: Thanks so much, Doug. I appreciate your time.