Huntsman Professors Offer Holiday Tips for Businesses and Consumers
By Allie Jeppson
As one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, the holidays host a battle between businesses that are trying to make money and shoppers who are looking to save.
Two Huntsman professors, both marketing experts, have offered several tips to help both businesses and consumers get the most out of the commercial holiday season.
The Business Side
As a senior lecturer of marketing and co-director of strategic marketing and brand management for the Huntsman School, Eric Schulz advised businesses to take advantage of the holiday shopping adrenaline rush.
“Consumers are out looking for stuff,” he said. “(As a business) you need to take advantage of that adrenaline rush to get customers to act while they’re in your store because once they walk out, shame on you for not capturing their attention.”
Mr. Schulz offered the following advice to retailers:
The strategic use of social media is one way to attract holiday shoppers.
1. “Leverage social media with disappearing offers.”
Stores should create a sense of urgency among the shoppers, through social media, with limited-time offers, Mr. Schulz said. For example, a business could announce special deals on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest that are available only for a 12-hour time period. This motivates the consumer to “act now,” Mr. Schulz said. By doing this, smaller stores are able to compete with larger firms that have the ability to tap into more extensive marketing budgets.
2. “Leverage your in-store experience for surprise specials.”
Another thing that stores can do is to announce a surprise sale over the PA system while people are shopping, Mr. Schulz said. Again, this drives customers to products and motivates them to act quickly. Mr. Schulz advised stores to use such sales to thin excess inventory or sell slow-moving items.
3. “Partner with local merchants to create a chain reaction.”
This helps to drive customers from one store to another, Mr. Schulz said. One example that he gave would be to have a giveaway contest in two different stores. This would mean that a store might promote a contest in a neighboring store, in addition to promoting its own sale.
4. “Create bounce-back offers.”
“When a customer is leaving the store,” Mr. Schulz said, “give them something that makes them come back, some kind of a bonus coupon that’s good for 10% if you come back in the next five days.”
With this type of marketing strategy, Mr. Schulz noted that businesses should try to set limits, like an expiration date or offer a limited number of the discounted items on the sale, so that the coupon is valued more and used.
The Customer Side
While many people are involved with the business side of the holidays, there are more who, as customers, are on the opposite end. For those people looking to stores for their holiday gifts and goodies, Dr. Stacey Hills, clinical associate professor of marketing, has some advice of her own to give.
Paying attention to sales can pay off for the smart shopper.
1. “Shop the sales.”
While it may be more convenient to purchase all the items on one’s entire shopping list at one store, Dr. Hills suggested that consumers can actually save money by shopping the sales. Different stores have different items on sale at different times of the year, she said. If consumers pay attention to those sales and buy those items at those times, they can save a lot of money.
Shopping the sales, she added, requires advance planning. Consumers looking for bargains would be smart to pay careful attention to fliers and mailers that they get. There are also some websites that offer a listing of sales, making it easy to compare and find the best deals.
“If you actually go from store to store to store, you’ll totally make money,” she said.
2. “Plan for impulse buying.”
“There are things in the stores that are designed to make you want to buy right at the register,” Dr. Hills said.
With the marketing techniques that stores use, splurges are bound to happen, she added. If shoppers don’t budget money for that, they can come home feeling defeated because they didn’t stick to their plan.
3. “Know your own shopping style.”
To make the holiday shopping experience more enjoyable and fulfilling, Dr. Hills suggested that shoppers understand how they shop and go shopping with people who have a similar style.
“If you’re the type of person who has to purchase everything on your list, then don’t bring somebody who isn’t up for that challenge. It gets way more stressful if you drag your boyfriend or your sister along and they just want to get in and get out.”
4. "Buy generic items as close to Christmas as you can."
Christmas-themed items are already on sale and as the holiday draws nearer, sales will only get bigger as prices will continue to drop, Dr. Hills said. She recommended this tip for buying small, generic things like ornaments, candy, or stocking stuffers and not large gifts that are in demand and not likely to be restocked in time for Christmas.
“From Dec. 15 to 20, small things like that will get really cheap, but if it’s something really special, then don’t wait to buy it,” she said.