After a difficult holiday season in 2020, the retail industry is expected to recover this year. While retailers will be keeping a close eye on how sales fare during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, business experts believe the holiday shopping season will at least match pre-pandemic levels.
However, with the COVID-19 virus still a reality and concerns surrounding the new Omicron variant, some shoppers may be reluctant to return to in-person shopping. To lure shoppers back into stores, retailers are turning the holiday season into an exciting “experience” using DOOH promotions.
In Los Angeles, the Holiday Market at the Century City mall has worked with Westfield’s media and experiences team to bring together valuable partnerships with notable brands such as Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and AfterPay’s AR scavenger hunt. Westfield and Holiday Market hope the interactive experiences will attract more shoppers, which should boost sales for other businesses across the mall. Westfield works with brands to run results-based advertising campaigns and helps deliver those campaigns to retailers and consumers.
Loren Miller, SVP, US Media and Strategic Partnerships with Westfield, said a growing trend of blending hybrid experiences with DOOH in physical experiences sparked the idea for the Christmas Market displays.
“We’ve had multiple partners that capitalize on Westfield’s world-class physical assets while harnessing the power of the Westfield network to raise awareness, including Netflix’s ‘Army of the Dead’ and forthcoming experiences with Afterpay and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine brand for the holidays.” Miller said in an email interview with Digital Signage Today.
Afterpay AR Holiday Hunt features two-dimensional “hidden helpers” placed throughout the mall. Each stop unlocks a 3D character that includes a special retail promotion redeemable on-site.
Founded in Australia in 2015, Afterpay is a platform that allows users to pay for purchases in four interest-free payments and rewards shoppers who pay on time. You can pay 25% at purchase and pay off the rest later. David Di Bene, vice president of retail marketing at Afterpay, said the idea for the platform came about after the 2008 financial crisis plunged some millennials into crushing credit card debt.
“Today there’s an obvious acceleration in online spending, but there’s also a noticeable shift away from credit cards — just like in 2008,” Di Bene said in an email interview. “Millennials and Gen Z show a clear aversion to financial risk – especially when it comes to lifestyle purchases. We’ve seen the economic climate accelerate the demand for flexible shopping and payment options, and Afterpay offers a solution that allows consumers to continue shopping responsibly without the burden of credit card debt.”
Di Bene said Westfield’s AR shopping experience combines both fun and engagement, along with more freedom and convenience for shoppers.
“The AR experience is also about supporting retailers during the busy shopping season,” he said. “After a customer completes a stage of the scavenger hunt, they receive a discount code for one of the participating retailers, which ultimately directs traffic to their downtown locations.”
Hello Sunshine, another special promotion, includes a Witherspoon’s Book Club pop-up store that includes merchandise and activities.
“Here, shoppers can pick up RBC’s latest Gift of Reading box, all of Reese’s book picks and a curated collection of over 30 women-led, book-positive brands and gift-ready products,” Miller said.
The 2020 holiday season is shifting priorities
While the pandemic took a heavy toll on retail shopping during the 2020 holiday season, it allowed retailers to step back and think about how to reach consumers.
DOOH advertising was hit particularly hard as companies shifted their advertising dollars to other mediums. Miller said another change has occurred as more campaign visibility and real-time reporting impacted retailers’ use of DOOH. Westfield welcomed the change by unveiling an “impression guarantee” for its digital campaigns.
“We also used this time to promote our privacy-friendly anonymized video analytics platform, which offers a unique ability to target creatives and collect live, real-time data for optimization in-market to meet our partners’ needs” , Miller said.
The surge in QR code usage was also an emerging trend in the midst of the pandemic, according to Miller. She said QR codes could increase consumer engagement from DOOH ads to mobile screens.
While consumers stayed away from stores in large numbers over the past season, retailers are banking on shoppers returning to in-store shopping experiences after missing out a year ago. Retail experts believe that there are certain aspects of visiting physical stores that online shopping cannot replicate, such as trying on clothes.
“There’s still a demand for in-store shopping, so we want to be there to help retailers maximize the success of this channel as much as they do online,” said Di Bene. “This means offering the simplicity and convenience of Afterpay in-store and intersecting that with fun and engaging experiences that keep shoppers coming back to stores.”