Between the Covid-19 pandemic, racial tensions in the U.S. and an upcoming election that is sure to gather worldwide attention, the lead-in to the holiday season is without a doubt a more current events-intensive one than any in recent memory. But that doesn’t mean retailers and brands can’t find ways to connect with their consumer as the season approaches.
In fact, more millennial and Gen Z shoppers are becoming conscious of where they’re shopping, because they’ve “now discovered that your dollar is your vote,” according to Tiffany Reid, the fashion director of Bustle Digital Group.
In a webinar hosted Wednesday by pay-later platform Klarna, Reid noted that this shopper consciousness is extending further to brands and their efforts in sustainability or protecting human rights, underscoring the imperative for brands to prioritize transparency while not idling on the sidelines when it comes to social issues.
“People are researching and being more intentional with the way they shop,” Reid said. “Now, I’ve noticed, at least from my perspective when we’re creating content, that the stories that have further research, that have further meaning behind them are performing significantly better. They need to have more of an angle because people are smart with their dollars, because we’re approaching a recession and unemployment is high.”
David Sykes, head of U.S. for Klarna, cited Toms one of the biggest purpose-driven brands, having donated more than 100 million pairs of shoes worldwide. Younger consumers don’t just respond to that kind of philanthropic purpose, he added—they expect it.
The Toms example aligns well with Klarna, which became climate neutral in 2019. The Swedish fintech firm published its first-ever climate report last year and established goals to host 100 percent of its server use and data storage in the cloud, use renewable energy in 60 percent of all of its offices and reduce global air travel emissions by 5 percent per employee.
Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO of skincare and cosmetics brand Beautycounter, believes her company has been fortunate in building out a direct-to-consumer brand that was empowered by a community, which she believes is important for a brand looking to recover from the coronavirus virus.
“People do come, because they come to gather, they come to meet other people that are part of the Beautycounter community and they come to share information and products with their friends,” Renfrew said. “I do think that this traditional model of selling to your client is over. They’re telling you what they want.”
With many people either having less money in their pocket due to the high unemployment rates or not wanting to spend due to uncertainty around the economic climate, Renfrew believes that during the holiday season, it’s important for brands to help shoppers feel good about their present situation and make sure they’re “not being asked to spend unnecessarily.”
In giving retailers a final tip to “win” the holiday season, Reid stressed the importance of content in encouraging brand trust.
“When you’re creating the content, it’s about making sure that you are tapping into the influencers and celebrities and those that your customers already trust,” Reid said. “When people are spending their money, they want somebody they trust to validate it versus creating a wish list that says ‘I want this really expensive party bracelet.’ We want the people that we trust and respect and their voice to really tell us what they’re actually spending all their money on and why they’re buying it.”