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Here’s How to Run Holiday Promotions Without Discounts

November 21, 2022
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‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and this year it’s complicated. 56% of shoppers already started shopping in October, but they’re expected to spend less as nearly 60% plan to cut back on non-food spending for the 2022 holiday season. 

While holiday discounts have historically been the go-to, they can be a real budget squeeze in today’s precarious economy. This year, brands have an opportunity to be nimble and focus on providing value to their customers in new ways with more cost-friendly alternative promotions. 

Let’s snap into some merry-and-bright holiday promotion ideas (sans discounts) that you can bake into your strategy pie this season.

Limited-time offers

As the name suggests, a limited-time offer (LTO) is a type of promotional deal that is only available for a certain amount of time (think free shipping, special packaging, unique SKU, etc.). LTOs are a perfect way to create a sense of urgency by establishing a set window of opportunity for an item or service that shoppers wouldn’t typically have access to. By running LTOs during the holiday period, brands can get the revenue bump they need just before the end of the year. 

Alternative Black Friday messaging

Putting a spin on Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) campaigns has become an iconic way for brands to stand out. Take the infamous Patagonia campaign “Don’t Buy This Jacket”. The outdoor retail brand published a full-page ad telling people not to buy their jackets and listed environmental footprint factors like water usage and carbon dioxide emissions. This became viral overnight and raised awareness for environmental change. 

Alternative BFCM messaging can range anywhere from donations to site shutdowns. There’s no cookie-cutter method, which gives brands complete creative freedom. By approaching BFCM through a different lens, this method can effectively boost brand awareness and acquire new customers.  

Gift guides

Shoppers can use a little gifting inspiration during the holidays. From coworker gift exchanges to in-law presents, finding the perfect gift within budget can leave even the best gifters stumped. 

Think about what gift guides fit your business and then focus on specific price points and audiences. Here’s some inspiration: 


  • Holiday Gifts Under $50 for the Foodie on Your List
  • Gift Guide for Skincare Lovers Under $100
  • 10 Luxury Gifts for the Holidays Under $200

Create multiple gift guides for different customer personas and then share those via email or SMS with relevant audience segments. Not only does this showcase your products, but it helps your brand stay top of mind throughout the peak shopping season.   

Product bundling

Bundles are a win-win for customers and brands. Shoppers perceive a package of multiple products as valuable, even if the bundled discount is small. On the flip side, this approach allows brands to drive more sales, keep low-selling products in circulation, and increase customers’ average order value (AOV). For the season of giving, brands can frame these as “holiday bundles” (hello LTO) which only boosts the motivation to purchase. 

Other promotions we love

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these other holiday promotion ideas: 

  • Raffles: Establish a timeframe for ordering that makes shoppers eligible to win something special (e.g., a $200 shopping spree, exclusive item, etc.). 
  • Loyalty: When shoppers buy a certain amount or number of items, they’ll get extra loyalty points to use on a later purchase.
  • Cashback: Offer a certain amount of cashback (e.g., 20-30%) during a specific timeframe.
  • VIP early access: Allow existing customers to sign up for early access to a new holiday product drop, promotion, etc.  
  • Gift with purchase: Incentivize shoppers to purchase by offering a free gift, product accessory, or sample.

If discounting isn’t an option this year, try one of these holiday promotion ideas to continue rewarding customers in a way that works for your business. Don’t forget to establish a strong post-purchase communications plan to keep gift buyers and recipients in the loop even after the holidays. 

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