Woman doing her holiday shopping standing outside a store and looking at her phone.
From an increase in in-store shopping to more businesses leveraging TikTok, these key marketing trends will help businesses boost sales in the holiday season and into 2023. — Getty Images/LEREXIS

Key Black Friday trends that will drive the retail industry in 2023:

  • This holiday season, retailers and brands are tapping live video to both deliver heightened customer service and turn product buzz into sales.
  • As small businesses gain ever-burgeoning appeal among consumers, big players such as Amazon are making them the centerpiece of their holiday product assortment.
  • Brick-and-mortar stores are staging a post-pandemic comeback: Almost two-thirds (63%) of U.S. consumers plan to shop in person this year.

Retailers’ marketing moves kick into overdrive Black Friday weekend, the Super Bowl of the holiday shopping season, when merchants generate a disproportionate amount of their annual sales. Their strategies often signal the trends that will shape how we shop the following year.

Here’s why gift-giving fueled by livestream shopping, TikTok, and the ever-burgeoning promotion of small, local brands hint at the trends poised to drive retail sales in 2023.

Livestream shopping takes Black Friday flight

Live video, which drives an estimated $300 billion in sales in China, is still catching on in the U.S., but is expected to gain heightened appeal as American consumers seek out more personalized “phygital” (digital meets physical) shopping experiences.

This holiday season, retailers and brands are tapping live video to both enhance customer service and turn product buzz into sales.

Levi’s this week, for example, held a livestream shopping experience on its e-commerce site with influencer Emma Chamberlain, noted Jessica Ramirez, Senior Research Analyst with investment research and retail/brand consulting firm Jane Hali & Associates. Chamberlain, who boasts 16.2 million Instagram followers, shared her favorite items from the denim brand’s holiday assortment.

“While livestreaming started during the pandemic, we are noting more brands [using it] to create a better experience to further engage with the younger consumer via digital,” Ramirez told CO—.

This holiday season, MAC Cosmetics is tapping live video to enable a smooth shopping experience for both customers and gift givers — a trend that’s poised to accelerate in 2023, said Zarnaz Arlia, Chief Marketing Officer for customer experience platform Emplifi, which counts brands like McDonald’s and Delta Air Lines among its clients. “[MAC’s]online shoppers can message, schedule an in-person appointment, or even chat with a cosmetic specialist via live video,” she told CO—. “This is a perfect example of a brand making customer connection as seamless as possible which can reduce [online shopping] cart abandonment and increase customer loyalty.”

While livestreaming started during the pandemic, we are noting more brands [using it] to create a better experience to further engage with the younger consumer via digital.

Jessica Ramirez, Senior Research Analyst, Jane Hali & Associates

The TikTok phenomenon reshapes the holiday shopping experience

Video-sharing app TikTok has seen explosive growth — it’s now the second most downloaded app worldwide this year behind Instagram, according to Data.ai.

Now, “Tik Tok is gaining more influence over consumers and changing the way consumers digest content even when it comes to shopping,” Ramirez said. “If you look at brands on Instagram, all of the posts are now done in video format like TikTok.”

And it’s not just retailers that are looking to monetize the video chat platform this holiday season. This coming Small Business Saturday on November 26, for example, American Express is teaming up with TikTok to offer eligible small businesses a $100 ad credit to use on the app after they spend $50 on their first TikTok ad campaign.

That comes as little surprise. “When we track the social media following for brands and retailers, we are noting some of the Instagram following to be flat while TikTok is growing,” Ramirez said.

[Read: Adapt These Strategies From Big Retailers to Boost Your Small Business Saturday Sales]

Shopping small gets bigger: Local brands get a grander platform this season

The pandemic fueled consumers’ interest in purchasing from small, local businesses that had been disproportionately hit by the crisis. The appeal of SMBs appears to have gone unabated: Indeed, 65% of holiday shoppers plan to buy from a small business this holiday season, according to a Bankrate survey.

And now big brands from Walmart to Amazon are getting in on the action. This holiday season, Amazon is putting merchandise from small businesses front and center, and for good reason: During the third quarter of this year, third-party businesses, most of them small- to medium-sized enterprises, accounted for 58% of all products sold on Amazon, the highest percentage of third-party sales in the 20-plus years since Amazon began inviting brands and small businesses to sell on its platform.

The nation’s largest online retailer has added several tools to promote small businesses during the holiday season and throughout the year to drive sales, such as small business badges on the site that identify products being sold by a small business. “We see really positive performance in increased clicks for businesses with the badges, which confirms there is customer interest in supporting small businesses, and that the badge is helping them find those businesses,” Keri Cusick, Director of Small Business Empowerment for Amazon, told CO—.

[Read: How Amazon’s Holiday Growth Strategy Targets Small Businesses]

The store’s still the thing: Physical retail reigns supreme

While online shopping surged during the pandemic, the store is once again the main event when it comes to consumers’ gift-buying plans this year: Almost two-thirds (63%) of consumers plan to shop in person this year, up from last year’s 58%, JLL’s Retail Holiday Survey found.

Most shoppers surveyed said their main reason for shopping in stores this holiday is to see and handle products before making a purchase, while roughly one-third (32.7%) are shopping in-store to skirt shipping costs and delays.

“Brick-and-mortar has made a strong comeback over the last year as COVID-19 worries fade and shoppers revert to pre-pandemic habits,” according to an Insider Intelligence report.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 23, 2022