For many consumer brands, the holiday season marks the beginning of a make-it-or-break-it period where every engagement, customer interaction, and the sale can mean the difference between profit and loss. In fact, some retailers report that holiday sales make up 30% of their total revenue for the year.

Luckily, there is no shortage of opportunities for businesses to win a sale during the 4th quarter. According to the National Retail Federation, 56% of gift-givers began their holiday shopping in early November and an estimated 190 million consumers shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. On average, consumers plan to spend over $1,000 during this gift-giving season.

More and more consumers are using their mobile phones to make holiday purchasing decisions. 75% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers turned to mobile to research and make purchases, while younger generations also utilized social platforms to track sales and promotions.

With the increased spending and pressure to make the 4th quarter count, consumers are inundated with social campaigns, ads, special offers, and email messaging. At their worst, these campaigns often fall into the noise without having much of an impact. But at their best, they can improve consumer sentiment, drive brand loyalty and lead to direct sales. Here’s our round-up of the top 8 holiday campaigns for 2019.

#1 Starbucks Taps into the Reusable Trend with a Limited Release Holiday Cup

For Starbucks fans, the release of the holiday coffee cups has become something of a tradition. Customers anticipate the change from the regular white disposable cups to the festive red cups as a signal that the holidays have officially arrived.

Consumers are becoming more and more concerned with the over-reliance on single-use products like disposable coffee cups. According to an Accenture survey, 83% of consumers believe it is important for brands to design products that are meant to be reused.

This year, Starbucks tapped into this trend by releasing a limited-edition reusable red cup to every customer who ordered a holiday beverage on November 7, 2019. Festive social posts and ads highlighted the exclusive, limited nature of this campaign to drive urgency among consumers.

#2 J.Crew uses IGTV & Instagram Videos to Spark Inspiration

J Crew Holiday IGTV Campaign

Source: J.Crew

With each holiday season comes the inevitable question – “what do I buy for …?”

J.Crew’s holiday IGTV series sparked inspiration for customers asking that exact question to themselves. The entertaining and sometimes silly campaign depicted the holiday obsessions of different personas (and well-known actors) like holiday decorating, staying cozy or wearing sparkle everything. It was easy for consumers to identify with these different characters.

Nearly two-thirds of holiday shoppers claim that online video has given them ideas for purchases. By putting the focus on the persona, rather than products J.Crew was able to entertain, inspire and drive purchases.

#3 Milton & Goose Team Up with Influencers for a Big Giveaway

View this post on Instagram

✨GIVEAWAY – Closed – Congrats, @jessie_dollah!! ✨ We’ve been super excited about this one because @christine_simplybloom has been such a wonderful supporter of ours, so we’re thrilled to team up with her for a fabulous holiday giveaway to win $300 Milton & Goose shop credit! . To enter, simply: . 1. FOLLOW @christine_simplybloom AND @Miltonandgoose 2. LIKE this post 3. Tag at least 3 friends who would love a chance to win as well. Each tag counts as an entry. 4. For EXTRA entries share this in stories and be sure to tag us so we can see 😉 ✨ . Giveaway will end in 24 hours! Winner will be selected at random! Good luck! . This is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Instagram. By entering, you agree to release all participants of any potential liability.

A post shared by Milton & Goose (@miltonandgoose) on

Launched in 2017, the high-end children’s toy brand Milton & Goose credits Instagram with much of their success in growing a following and creating loyal customers. For their holiday 2019 campaign, Milton & Goose looked to reinforce that loyalty, expand their audience, and reward their followers by partnering with influencers for a giveaway campaign.

The brand worked with niche influencers like @christine_simplybloom to create user-generated content that provided social proof, a chance to win a $300 prize, and product discount codes. It was a perfect way to reward followers and customers for their loyalty and attract the attention of holiday shoppers. Since 61% of shoppers are open to buying from new retailers during the holiday season, the timing was perfect for Milton & Goose to attract new customers.

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to plan your own influencer campaign, check out our 7 Tips for Influencer Outreach.

#4 Fritos Updates a Holiday Classic with Anna Kendrick

Fritos paired the well known holiday song, “My Favorite Things” with the star power of Anna Kendrick in their holiday musical campaign. Kendrick sings, dances, and makes viewers laugh to the Fritos infused rendition of the song. The video is visually beautiful, Kendrick is engaging on-screen, and the tune is catchy enough to get stuck in viewers heads days after watching.

According to Fritos, Americans take part in an estimated 327 million holiday gatherings between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Being top of mind with their catchy ad presents a great number of opportunities to win grocery store purchasing decisions.

#5 Apple Pulls at Our Heartstrings

This season, Apple focused on the emotional side of the holidays with a storytelling campaign that really pulls at viewers’ heartstrings. The video depicts busy parents handing their children an iPad over and over as a distraction. This scene may be familiar to parents, despite worries about too much screen time for young kids. However, the story shows us how that screen time can actually lead to creativity. At the end of the ad the children review a heartfelt video they created using photos, videos, and iPad apps.

While viewers see the use of the products within this video, the story that’s being told is more important. Consumers walk away from this ad feeling uplifted but also educated on the capabilities of the Apple products.

#6 Gap Goes 100% Digital, Taps Into Experience Economy

Heritage clothing brand GAP made headlines last fall by announcing that their holiday ads would air exclusively on digital channels. The platform mix included GAP social channels, YouTube and media buys on Hulu, Vevo, and Facebook Watch. This decision is in line with consumer behavior, more than 90% of consumers have discovered new products and brands via YouTube.

GAP also took a sharp departure from the well-known, jazzy, product-based campaigns of their past. 2019’s video campaign followed the story of a single mom and her son through the everyday moments of their life, always with his GAP sweatshirt by his side. This story is part of the brand’s “Gift the Thought” campaign, which encourages consumers to think about why they gift rather than what they gift.

GAP’s new approach makes sense at a time when consumers are increasingly focused on giving experiences over consumer goods: 63% of adults would prefer to receive an experience gift than a material gift this holiday season.

#7 Visa Embraces #ShopSmall

There is a growing sentiment among consumers to support small businesses, and Visa made sure to let their customers know that they also support American Main Street. Consumers spent $3.6 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2019 – an increase of 18% over 2018 according to Adobe Analytics.

Visa’s holiday campaign, which takes a play from American Express, features small business owners working hard throughout the holiday season. The musical video encourages consumers to support these businesses, while also depicting Visa as a company that supports the little guy.

#8 FedEx Solves a Consumer Pain Point

In 2019, holiday e-commerce spending was projected to surpass $135 billion in total revenue. This is not surprising, given that 56% of consumers plan to do their holiday shopping online. But with all of that online shopping comes challenges for consumers, including what to do with all of the cardboard boxes that holiday gifts arrive in.

FedEx’s holiday campaign tells the story of one girl’s Christmas morning, and how she would rather play with FedEx boxes than the new toys that were inside of them. As shipping companies become a larger and larger part of the holiday shopping experience, FedEx positions itself as a brand that understands the consumer by helping them solve the “cardboard box dilemma.”

In 2019, retailers were well-positioned for success: retail sales are expected to increase between 4.5 – 5.5% over the previous year. But just because shoppers were ready to spend doesn’t mean that every brand will come out on top. The brands that have the most success are those that are tuned into the wants and needs of their consumers. Each of these 8 campaigns shows how brands can embrace consumer trends to create marketing that resonates with their audiences and drives consideration, loyalty and action during this high-pressure shopping season.

What holiday campaigns resonated with you this holiday season? Are there any you would add to this list?

To learn more about the latest social media platforms, join us at one of our upcoming social media strategy conferences.