2021 Holiday Marketing: Are We Too Late?

November 9th, 2021 | Amanda Vitrano

Challenges surrounding logistics, labor shortages, and pent-up demand is bringing greater pressure to retailers ahead of the holiday season.

Supply chain issues are keeping shelves empty and causing prices to increase

The global supply chain bottleneck has led to shortages of common household items, automobiles, and now…holiday gifts.

The bottleneck was caused by the reduction of goods produced over the course of the pandemic, paired with the sudden influx of seasonal consumer demand. When combined with the current labor shortage and rising inflation, retailers are struggling to keep prices down and stay competitive during their busiest time.

In order to meet consumer demand this holiday shopping season, brands can focus their marketing efforts on the following themes

Consumers want to get their holiday shopping done quickly, but many are hesitant to make a purchase with Black Friday looming around the corner. To appease deal-savvy customers, begin promoting (or previewing) Black Friday deals early.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers adapted to alternative purchase means – such as online grocery delivery and curbside pickup. Customers who need items quickly, but do not want to risk shopping at a store with low inventory can benefit from having retailers offering online purchases, in-store pickup and BNPL services.

To avoid the frustration of trying to buy an item listed as on-sale that sold out, retailers can focus instead on category-level marketing instead of item-specific, including both advertising and sales promotion.

In 2021, big-box retailers are spending more ahead of the holiday season than ever before

The spending increase in August was driven by Amazon (+127% YoY) and Target (+359% YoY,) while Macy contributed to September’s uptick at +105% YoY.

Retailers are using the themes of efficiency, convenience, and flexibility in their messaging strategy


Amazon combined its ongoing epic deals initiative with 2021 holiday shopping to solicit customers to shop early.

Best Buy appealed directly to deal-conscience consumers by creating the ‘Black Friday Prices Guarentee.’ This program instills buyer confidence by providing a refund on the price difference if the item drops to a lower price by November 26.

Paid Facebook

Macy’s provided a variety of shopping options such as buy online, pick up in-store, and curbside pickup.


In an effort to obtain a larger app userbase ahead of the Holiday season, Target incentivized the app with exclusive offers.

Target chose to include a category-level promotion, rather than a product-specific ad, to provide flexibility to customers without exhausting their product inventory.

Display ad, observed on yahoo.com

What we think

Non-retail brands can play a role in easing the holiday shopping madness

Shop Small
Last year, media and financial services brands championed small businesses struggling during the pandemic. This year, non-retail brands can take some of the attention away from big box retailers by asking consumers to shop small and look for locally-made products.

Buy Now, Pay Later
Many consumers continue to face financial hardship while emerging from the pandemic, with the lack of available funds contributing to delayed holiday shopping. Fortunately, BNPL services are offered virtually everywhere and to everyone. Brands that utilize these services can appeal to skeptical consumers by describing it as virtual layaway.

Amanda Vitrano

Amanda Vitrano

Amanda is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst with Comperemedia, specializing in social media and omnichannel marketing trends.