The pandemic is sure to leave its mark on consumer spending habits, both in the short- and long-term. Consumers’ resulting desire to lean on known entities shouldn’t be a surprise. According to a 2020 Quikly holiday survey, 80% of consumers say they plan to spend the same (or less) this holiday season than they did last year; 69% intend to limit their shopping to the same number of stores — or fewer — than they frequented before.

Despite consumer desire for the familiar, there is an opportunity for retailers to attract holiday shoppers. In fact, half of consumers say their willingness to try new brands or products is higher or much higher right now than usual. Discounts and value-adds are accessible entry points for consumers on the fence about venturing away from their preferred retailers — even more than promises and guarantees of in-store safety and distance in these uncertain times.

Connecting with consumers during this unique holiday season will require retailers to plan and act differently. Try these holiday retail marketing ideas to engage consumers in the coming months:

1. Promote early and often. Just because the holiday shopping season traditionally starts around the same time each year doesn’t mean your marketing has to wait. Economic uncertainty has become an issue for some, and smaller budgets limit others. As a result, getting out in front of the holiday season with early advertising is a smart play.

If you have a product in-stock that is being upgraded or updated around the first of the year, for example, formulate a holiday clearance sale and communicate your plans early. Retailers sometimes run promos (like Amazon’s Prime Day) or sales to hype up their products and encourage consumers to cross things off their holiday lists before the shopping rush.

Experiment with different ways to bring consumers into your retail pipeline sooner than the standard holiday cycle. Shoppers will appreciate the convenience and keep your store in mind during the holiday season and beyond.

2. Start spreading the news. Is your store experimenting with curbside retrieval or buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS)? With one-third of consumers expecting to use BOPIS more this holiday season, you’ll do everyone a service by sharing details for those who want to shop from a distance.

Speaking of distance, concerns about COVID might cause some consumers to want reassurances that their health will be prioritized during in-store shopping. Promote any special offers or precautions you’re taking to support consumers and attract holiday shoppers who crave a traditional buyer experience with safety assurances.

In short, now is not the time to be shy about promoting discounts, value-added services, and anything else you are doing to help entice holiday consumers.

3. Don’t take the subtle route. Holiday shoppers are busy, and they need the shopping experience to be as simple as possible. To capitalize on this need for ease, retailers should take a smart, aggressive, and direct approach.

Before you can attract holiday shoppers, you need to be where they are. Take an omnichannel approach to engage across a full range of marketing touchpoints, such as mobile devices, connected TV ads, and direct mail. Of course, you need to apply consumer insights to determine the best channels — or combination of channels — to drive sales and in-store or online traffic among consumers.

When making those overtures to consumers, forget the passive, “any old time” offers; roll out limited-time deals on products with a limited supply. You may even want to tier your promotions so that the value decreases over time, encouraging a sense of urgency. These deals will help steer your customers — both new and returning — in the right direction more quickly during the holidays.

The holiday shopping season will certainly be different this year. To adjust accordingly, you have to create new kinds of connections with your audience and a whole new swath of consumers. Focusing on what makes you unique will help you better serve shoppers this holiday season and build a new standard moving forward.

To hear more about how to anticipate the differences this holiday season, listen to Valassis’ Mark Johnson and Quikly’s Shawn Geller discuss “A Head Start on the Holidays: What Retail Marketers Need to Know.”