Blog Post

This Holiday Season, Nurture Consumer Relationships Instead of Making Ads

October 27, 2022

Brands and retailers are about to unleash their holiday campaigns. This season, however, the standard practice of buying eyeballs may not be the best way to grab consumers’ attention. With a barrage of messages coming at them all at once, it’s critical to get in front of people at the optimal time: when they are looking to buy.

With inflation worries and price increases in the headlines, consumers are definitely feeling the squeeze, making it critical for brands to show how their products can positively impact buyers’ lives. But even in this environment, when consumers are going to be more selective, holiday shopping can account for up to 30% of a retailer’s annual sales.

So, what’s a way brands and retailers can cut through the clutter?

Influencers can be much more effective at grabbing consumers’ attention and stoking the drive to purchase. They are focused on creating content that focuses on product benefits, not features. When influencers post about a product, they tend to look at it as a consumer. This benefit-driven content encourages their followers to stop scrolling and pay attention. Traditional forms of advertising generally only highlight product features.

They also know and understand audiences better than you do. Influencers interact with their followers every day, who make a conscious choice to watch their content. This relationship helps them create stories that resonate and serve to educate and inform. This is where your holiday messaging can come into play.

Choosing the right influencer

Ask the following questions to help guide the selection process:

Do they have the right audience? Many people focus on the influencer’s demographic, and not that of their followers. It is critical to ensure that the audience following the influencer is your product/brand target.

Do they have the credibility to authentically talk about the product? Would this a topic/category make sense for the influencer to cover? For example, an influencer who primarily shares recipe content might have a hard time talking about car insurance. Their audience would find this content confusing and irrelevant.

Do they have strong engagement with their audience? Look for signs of authenticity in an influencer’s engagement with followers. This doesn’t require fancy tracking software. How many people are liking and commenting on the influencer’s feed? If their engagement rate is less than 1%, or the comments are of low quality, then move on.


Let go of creative control

The most challenging aspect for brands is letting go and giving influencers free rein to create stories they know their audience will respond to. Here are ways to do this effectively.

Share your brand voice. Show your influencer partners examples of posts that have the tone and content you like. Explain why you like them and why they work. This is an important step in ensuring that the influencer creates content that is on brand and appropriate.

Be aware of constraints, especially in heavily regulated categories. The SEC just fined Kim Kardashian for improper disclosure on a sponsored crypto post. Make sure the brand fully informs the influencers of specific legal and compliance issues. The FTC keeps updated guidelines for influencer disclosure on its site. Be sure you are familiar with them.


Check that the message is appropriate for the season. Influencers can create something that explains why now is the right time for the product to be on their must-have list.

Hershey’s has been doing this for years. Its “Baking With Hershey’s” influencer stories revolve around making holiday memories with kids and family. Influencers share experiences using Hershey’s products and show, rather than tell, how to connect, carry on family traditions or start new ones.

When the pandemic was in full swing and brands were unsure whether and how people would be celebrating Halloween, Hershey’s went all in, using influencers to showcase safe and fun ways to enjoy the holiday with kids. This approach helped Hershey’s deliver outstanding sales results during the all-important Halloween season.


This holiday season, there’s pent-up interest in shopping in person. Consumers are burnt out from the emotional toll of perpetual stress and craving a more typical experience. Brands can use influencers to give consumers a sense of normalcy. Find opportunities to make your products a must-have for them, and your brand will rise above the noise.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 24, 2022, issue of Adweek magazine.

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