’Tis the season of gifts: Unwrap strategies to grow customer loyalty this holiday season

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4 min read
Women hands unwrapping a gift.

Key Takeaways

As the holiday season approaches, businesses and retailers gear up for one of the busiest times of the year. The gift-giving season presents a unique opportunity for companies to grow their customer base, connect with their existing customers on a deeper level, create memorable experiences, and build long-term relationships. But in the world of gift-giving, the landscape can be quite challenging for both customers and businesses. Brands need to get creative to get the most out of this season and turn one-time buyers into loyal patrons.

Understanding the Gift-Giving Dynamic

The holiday season is a unique time for marketers as a significant portion of purchases are made for someone else. This creates a distinctive challenge for businesses to cater to the needs of customers who are often uncertain about their choices. Customers are tasked with the sometimes-impossible job of predicting what their friends, family, and colleagues truly desire. Everyone has experienced that moment of walking into a store or browsing endless online product listings, hoping to find the perfect gift, often buying nothing and starting the search over again the next day. There is a huge opportunity for brands to provide more benefits to their customers by helping them navigate, what most people consider, a very stressful shopping period.

Here, we explore strategies to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty during the holiday shopping season.

1. Zero-party Data Gold Mine

The gift-giving season provides an enormous opportunity for brands to collect zero-party data (ZPD). This high-volume shopping period brings with it an increase in customer engagement and interactions, meaning more opportunities to connect with customers and learn about them. When customers willingly share information about themselves and their preferences, brands can gain valuable insights they can use to deliver more personalized offerings and craft relevant messaging with tailored products, promotions, and discounts.  

During the busy holiday season, customers are looking for help as they shop around for gifts, which means they are more open to sharing information with you in exchange for guidance and assistance with gift ideas. There are many ways you can collect ZPD while helping your customers shop for presents:  

  • Create gift-giving surveys and questionnaires
  • Build interactive gift-buying guides and pages, such as product recommendation quizzes
  • Run ‘chance-to-win' promotions in exchange for answering questions  
  • Enable live chat support

You can then apply what you’ve learned to be a helpful friend by tailoring your messaging and gift recommendations to suit customer needs, making their shopping experience more enjoyable and increasing their satisfaction with your brand. And don’t forget to be creative; customers will appreciate brands going the extra mile for them. Uncommon Goods is a great example of a brand that has built a dedicated gift finder to help their customers choose the perfect products.

Uncommon Goods gift finder
Uncommon Goods gift finder

2. Special Season = Special Communication

Let’s start with a quick story about a mom shopping at a local craft store who got a truly personal touch. She’s a regular customer who the store employees know well—what she likes, when she shops, and more. During one of her visits to the store, she chose a few things for herself. On her way to the check-out, the store owner approached to ask whether she wanted to look for a present for her daughter and offered her a few options that she might like. Thanks to the suggestion and the help, she bought a Christmas present two months in advance for her daughter who was 8,000km away from her. (True story!)  

This experience shouldn’t only be a privilege for local shops; big brands have access to enormous amounts of data to create personalized and relevant experiences for their customers. Leverage the data and insights about your existing customers to offer them personalized gift ideas for their friends and family, whether it’s the ‘perfect partner gift guide’ or ‘mother’s special’. With the help of AI and machine learning, you can detect changes in customer purchase behavior, identify products they bought that do not fit a customer’s profile, and account for seasonality so that you can send personalized communication that is just right for them. (Learn more about how Kognitiv Ignite can help.)  

3. Don’t be a pest

Don’t forget that the customers you acquire during the holiday season might not have been buying for themselves, and may have significantly differing shopping habits than customers you acquire at other times of the year. Many brands risk losing these newly-acquired customers by targeting them with products that are not relevant to them. Depending on the diversity of your product catalog, you might be able to offer them products that align with their preferences or reengage them when the next holiday season approaches. Most importantly, don't let these valuable customers slip away; test and analyze what resonates with them. The simplest way to identify whether your customer is a gift shopper is to ask, “Is this a gift?” during the check-out process. By doing so, brands can tailor their offerings to cater to the interests and needs of gift shoppers. Naturally, if your product offerings don't align with a particular customer's profile, it's best not to attempt to sell them products that aren't a good fit. These individuals might just be your seasonal holiday customers, and that's perfectly fine.  

4. A gift for yourself

When customers shop for gifts, they often end up buying something for themselves as well. By understanding that customers are both gift-givers and self-indulgers, you can tailor marketing and engagement strategies to keep them coming back even after the holidays are over. This gives brands an opportunity to introduce new products, that might be outside of their customer’s regular purchase preferences, expanding their relationship with the brand. There are a few ways you can delight your customers with gifts for themselves during the holiday season:  

  • Bundled offers and discounts: When customers select gifts for someone else, entice them with bundled deals that include an additional item for themselves. This not only boosts the perceived value of their purchase but also satisfies their desires, making it a win-win situation.
  • Personalized recommendations: Create personalized suggestions for complementary items to accompany their gift choices, making it tempting for them to add a little something for themselves.
  • Special occasion messaging: Craft personalized, seasonal communications that emphasize the joy of self-indulgence during the holiday season. This can be presented as a 'special treat' for themselves, making the act of self-purchase even more enticing.

The holiday shopping season is a treasure trove of opportunities for businesses to learn more about their customers, foster personalized connections, and convert short-term shoppers into loyal patrons. By understanding the dynamics of gift-giving, brands can create a win-win situation, offering support to customers searching for the perfect gift and growing their customers' satisfaction and loyalty. With the help of AI and machine learning, brands can leverage deep customer insights, track customer behavior in real time and respond with relevant communication and gift suggestions that will help their customers navigate the busiest time of the year. Embrace the spirit of gift-giving and create memorable experiences for your customers during this special time of year.

Ready to make the most out of this holiday season?

Scheduled your personalized demo to find out more about how Kognitiv’s AI-native products can help you grow your customers’ loyalty this holiday season: Book a demo.

Ready to move to 1:1 customer engagement? Let’s chat! Our suite of AI-native customer intelligence and activation software can help you build deeper relationships with your customers and grow a loyal customer base.

  • Track, predict, and optimize your customers’ lifecycles with Kognitiv Pulse. Learn more.
  • Enable 1:1 personalization at scale with Kognitiv  Ignite. Learn more.
  • Launch and manage a successful loyalty program with Kognitiv Inspire. Learn more.
  • Intelligently acquire and engage customers across paid channels with Kognitiv Amplify. Learn more.

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