October 1st, 2019

Holiday Marketing Campaigns: 5 Insights from the Best DTC Promotions of All Time

Holiday Marketing Campaigns


Direct to consumer brands aren’t big on loud sales and dramatic discounts. After all, if you already offer quality products at affordable prices all year round, frequent sales could actually devalue the brand. However, that doesn’t mean DTC companies can’t get in on the seasonal fun with killer holiday marketing campaigns. If you’re wondering how to make your mark and stand out against the big retailers and their sweeping sales, just take inspiration from some wildly successful marketing campaigns of yore. Here are five major insights from the best DTC holiday marketing campaigns of all time.

1. Skip the sale and become a gifting guru

According to the National Retail Federation, the vast majority of retail spending during the holiday season goes towards, not surprisingly, gifts for loved ones. DTC brands can take advantage of this by becoming experts in gift-giving. For example, to highlight the fact that a Dollar Shave Club subscription is a great gift for (almost) everyone, the company created a brilliant ad highlighting the demographics that wouldn’t appreciate it — children, hairless cats, robots. It’s a smart anti-sell that gets its point across clearly and in a humorous way. The message is simple: Dollar Shave Club is a great gift option for nearly everyone in your life.

When you’re not sure what to buy, gift cards are always an option, but they can feel impersonal and low-effort. In the past, eyewear brand Warby Parker made gift cards extra-special by including a make-your-own-snowman kit with them. This adorable bonus made Warby Parker gift cards something more; after all, what says “holiday season” more than building a snowman with your family?

No matter what you do, keep in mind that 54% of shoppers use retailer recommendations when purchasing presents. When planning your holiday marketing campaigns, make sure you’re providing customers with gift ideas, whether that’s in the form of a gift guide or a clever message like Dollar Shave Club’s.

2. Create Hype with Limited-Edition Products

Sales aren’t everything. Sometimes the holiday hype isn’t driven by dollar signs; it’s about jumping on those limited-time products before they’re gone for good. Glossier, a DTC brand mastering the beauty marketing game, has done this in the past by releasing limited-edition makeup sets just for the season. In the case of that Black Tie makeup set, it’s perfect for two reasons: One, beauty gift sets make great gifts; and two, it’s something you might buy to treat yourself when you want to get dolled up for a holiday party.

Sales come and go, but limited-edition holiday products give customers a reason to buy now. On top of that, an in-demand, hard-to-get gift can create great buzz for your brand. If you want to stand out this holiday season, eschew big sales for special, thoughtfully curated items customers can’t get at any other time or place.

3. Get in the Spirit of Giving

Let’s be honest; it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the holiday marketing campaigns that we lose sight of what the season is really about. Take a step back from the noise and make your holiday marketing campaigns about more than selling — it can be about giving, too.

Some DTC brands have embraced the spirit of charity during hectic holiday times. For example, mattress brand Casper donated a set of sheets to the American Red Cross for every mattress sold over Black Friday weekend. Water bottle maker S’well created its own giving campaign in the form of a $1,500 Swarovski crystal-embedded limited edition design. The high-end item was obviously not meant for the casual buyer, but 100% of its profits were donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Creating a luxury edition of something as basic as a water bottle while being generously charitable? That’s a win-win.

4. Amplify Your Brand Message

One of the reasons DTC companies are so popular is because they’re often greater than the sum of their products. In other words, it’s not just about what they’re selling; it’s about the bigger picture. That might mean committing to sustainable products and practices, giving back to the community, or just being dedicated to high-quality goods at an affordable price. No matter how you manage your holiday marketing campaign, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your brand in the process.

Let’s take a look at Allbirds, a DTC shoe brand that rose to prominence in 2014 on the promise of comfortable, stylish, and environmentally friendly footwear. The Allbirds website carries a simple message: “Better things in a better way.” That tagline applies to every aspect of the business, from materials and shipping processes to manufacturing waste and pollution. Its holiday season “Scrap the Wrap” promotion was, therefore, laser-focused on its brand message. The brand encouraged customers to eschew wasteful wrapping paper in favor of more thoughtful gift presentations. By creating a hashtag and encouraging customers to post their best ideas to social media, Allbirds was able to turn an environmentally conscious idea into an intelligent marketing campaign. Keep that in mind this holiday season and make sure your brand shines no matter what you do.

5. Maximize marketing value on mobile

No matter the message or product, there’s one thing that all DTC brands share: mobile sales are going to be critical to making any holiday marketing campaign successful. One in six millennials makes mobile their first stop for shopping, while a whopping 61% of this coveted demographic relies on mobile messaging for browsing and comparison shopping. Given how millennials have embraced the DTC model, your mobile advertising strategy must be on point.

Of course, mobile advertising is a broad spectrum, so that gives you plenty of options. Get creative with video ads, engage customers with playables, or dominate social media like Barkbox did with its adorable 2018 holiday campaign. Like Allbirds’ “Scrap the Wrap,” Barkbox also encouraged user participation, and who can resist cute photos of dogs in holiday gear? No matter how you structure your holiday marketing campaign, keep in mind that holiday shoppers spending billions on mobile — you can’t afford to neglect this market.

For more information about all things mobile advertising or to get started on your own holiday marketing campaigns, turn to the experts at Tapjoy. Want to learn more about the kind of audiences you can reach through in-app advertising? Download our Modern Mobile Gamer  Personas eBook!

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