As consumer brands and retailers start planning for a likely record-breaking holiday season in three short months, an uneasiness is taking hold in many boardrooms. Dueling crises compete for attention — from inflation to supply chain issues, shortages, and uncertain consumer preferences — leaving many wondering what shoe will drop next.

To help customers better understand what lies ahead, Sitecore recently commissioned a survey of over 400 UK marketing decision makers at top consumer brands, retailers, and other categories. Here are some highlights alongside potential takeaways for brands that are counting down the days until this holiday season.

‘Tis the season for consumer brands going direct online

Given the growth of e-commerce over the past year, an increasing number of consumer brands are assessing what — if any — direct-to-consumer digital commerce strategy to take heading into the holidays. Historically, many brands have been hesitant to get distracted by an ecommerce play, not wanting to undermine existing retail partnerships or brand equity with a poor online shopping experience.

Clearly, however, the tide is turning. Nearly one-third (29%) of UK marketers are planning to sell directly to consumers via their websites or mobile apps for the first time ever this holiday season. Sitecore Commerce is helping many of these brands do just that, future proofing B2B and B2C commerce strategies and providing frictionless buying experiences.

‘Tis the season for digital-everywhere

It’s easy to take for granted how digital is woven into nearly every aspect of our lives. One area where that is crystal clear is holiday shopping.

Eighty-four percent of marketers now report that Cyber Monday “is no longer ‘a thing’ for our business,” as consumers increasingly expect Black Friday deals to include e-commerce by default — meaning the biggest shopping days of the year are merging into one for a more intuitive, blended experience. Perhaps as a response, 3 in 4 marketers plan to limit promotions to Black Friday weekend.

Blending the digital and physical worlds is also becoming table stakes. Among brands with physical stores, over two-thirds (68%) are aiming to maximize their physical presence by making it a connected “experiential destination.” One-third are even planning to digitize Christmas-specific events, like virtual meetings with Santa for young ones.

‘Tis the season for a reimagined, personalized Christmas experience all year long

Over 71% of marketers report that they are trialing subscription-based engagement during the holiday season to boost customer loyalty and offer a more personalized experience throughout the year. Nearly half (44%) of marketers are also planning to ramp up first-party data efforts using platforms like Sitecore CDP to build trusted digital relationships with customers as privacy takes on increased importance.

’Tis the season for turning to a digital experience delivery leader

As consumer brands and retailers gear up for a holiday season like no other, having a marketing stack and the right team to meet heightened expectations from content to commerce matters more than ever. Recently named a 2021 Microsoft Partner of the Year in the Retail and Consumer Goods Industry, Sitecore is built to deliver — and here to help.

You can dive deeper into the survey results here.

Lee Miles is Chief Customer Success Officer of Sitecore. You can follow him on LinkedIn here.