Why Mindful and Meaningful Experiences Will Lead This Holiday Season

By Jill Grozalsky Roberson, Director of DX Product Marketing & Evangelism, Sitecore

It won’t be long before the lights, sounds, and magic of the holidays are here, which means significant opportunities for retailers and brands. Consumers are expected to spend more than $1 trillion over the season, with more than 20% of that coming from online sales alone. This is impressive, but it’s important to consider what shoppers are searching for this year.

Our survey of 1,000 U.S. shoppers reveals that, after enduring the stay-at-home holidays of 2020, more than a third (36%) would like to celebrate with a new wardrobe. Nearly twice as many (71%) say they value travel and appreciate other cultures more today than before the pandemic, suggesting they will go on vacation when it’s safe to do so. This comes at a time when 50% of consumers have accumulated more savings than in the previous year. With more than half (53%) of respondents intending to make bigger and more mindful holiday purchases in 2021, it seems that consumers are now ready to open their wallets.

Mindfulness may be the key to success this season in order to attract consumers and build connections that can lead to purchases and share of wallet. And with 78% of consumers thinking more carefully about how they spend their money following the pandemic, brands and retailers should take the time to develop conscious and meaningful experiences that resonate with consumers.

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Offer mindful experiences that satisfy consumers’ needs

Shoppers are not solely looking for the best products – they are also searching for great companies and the incredible people behind them. They are eager to hear a brands’ story and want to support them by buying their merchandise whenever possible. That’s why, when it comes time to make a purchase, more than half (62%) of shoppers want retailers to offer more products from minority-owned businesses. While there has been some progress – 28% of respondents say they see more minority-made products than they did during previous shopping trips – the majority have yet to see an increase.

Consumers also prefer products crafted closer to home. Most (63%) say they are willing to pay more for locally made gifts. Whether they perceive these products to be better, assume they cost more to produce, or simply want to support local brands with their dollars, shoppers are making mindful decisions every step of the way. With this in mind, brands can more accurately determine ways to promote local products and demonstrate the story – and meaning – that lead to product creation. And retailers can better align their merchandise with shopper expectations.

Be engaging and memorable, no matter where consumers are

After a year like 2020, it’s easy to assume that home is the last place people want to be. On the contrary, more than four-fifths (86%) of respondents have come to appreciate time at home – and other simple pleasures – more than they did before the pandemic. This may explain why home improvement stores continued to post better-than-expected results well into 2021. Whether home by choice, concern or due to local health recommendations, people want their dwellings to be as inviting as possible. Brands can learn from this when building their messages and telling stories that engage shoppers on their journey to crafting a better home.

However, many consumers still long for the day when they can get away – 22% would like to gift themselves a trip this holiday season. Younger consumers are even more interested in traveling – 76% of those under 44 say they now “value travel and appreciate other cultures more.” This is another aspect that brands and retailers should note as they strive to create engaging and memorable messages.

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Consider what consumers want for themselves and others

In addition to traveling, younger shoppers are also interested in spending money during the November-December shopping period. Most (75%) Gen Z and nearly as many (69%) Millennials say they are more willing to make significant life enhancements post-pandemic. While ongoing challenges persist, our survey shows that more than half (58%) of Gen Z plan to spend more in 2021.

When looking at all demographics, 43% see self-gifting as a form of therapy. Most (78%) say the pandemic has made them more aware of their own mental health needs, as well as the needs of family, friends, and colleagues.

In other words, the products consumers buy for themselves or others are likely to be highly personal. They’ll consider where they are made and the local/minority-owned businesses behind them – two factors that may hold greater value than price. Considering each element means brands and retailers will be positioned to offer products that are memorable and meaningful.

Tell your story and connect on a deeper level

As consumers search for products with meaning, brands should tell their stories and connect with shoppers on a deeper level. There is no better time to do that than now. With the holidays fast approaching, shopping and gift-giving will be top of mind for many consumers. But they are looking for more than stocking stuffers and presents under the tree. They want memorable, personalized experiences that are rich and relatable. Consumers are mindful of where products are made and who is making them. This allows brands to share their story in a meaningful manner, knowing shoppers are ready to connect and listen.

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