Every year, without exception, retailers see a huge upturn of
shoppers between October and December.
For many, this part of the calendar represents the biggest event of the
year and, with some businesses doing more than 40 per cent of their
annual volume during this season, you can see why the Christmas plan
occupies so much of marketing directors’ mind during the year.
The same is true of magazines as people looking for tips/what to do/what
to watch over Christmas swells circulation, and promiscuity is well
above normal levels.
With stakes like this, it is easy to see why retailers and media
publishers adopt a ’tunnel vision’ view of Christmas by treating it
merely as a volume opportunity to be milked to the full until ’life
returns to normal’ in the new year.
Sadly, those who do treat this part of the calendar this way are missing
a more important issue and bigger opportunities.
For retailers and media publishers alike, Christmas is the single
biggest (and cheapest) recruitment vehicle available. What other
marketing tool could match its credentials?
It will encourage lapsed and non-users to trial in huge numbers. It will
encourage people to spend more than they want to. It’s predictable. Once
a year without fail. And it’s free.
But how many retailers and media publishers convert this flirtation into
something far more rewarding for both parties? A recent J. Walter
Thompson survey (which is being updated this year by BMRB) indicates
that, in fact, the conversion figures are frighteningly low.
If this is the case, then the manner in which Christmas marketing
budgets are being spent will need serious attention. The second part of
our survey (out in the new year) will address this question.
Christmas will also either diminish or enhance brand equity. Common
knowledge is that, despite the imagery, Christmas is a time of strain
and stress for everyone -financially, domestically, socially and
professionally. It is especially bad for those with young children who
create the added ’I must get it right.’ pressure. But herein lies the
real opportunity for the retailer and the media title.
Helping the consumer ’get it right’ is not merely a business
opportunity, it is a marketing obligation that will add value to the
And, to be successful, both retailers and media publishers need to do a
number of things.
First, they must build Christmas authority. That’s to say build relevant
seasonal authority beyond the usual price, range and location
Second, they must resist the ’dramatise the merchandise’ tendency.
Third, they must drive active store and active product preference.
Following these three guidelines can help Christmas function as a lens
by which a brand’s differentiation can be brought into sharp relief.
The way people shop/buy at Christmas is often thought to be different
from the way they shop/buy during the rest of the year and,
consequently, analysis is of little value.
This view is fundamentally flawed. Christmas shopping patterns are
largely driven of perceptions formulated during the course of the whole
And, given that Christmas is almost entirely marketing and media driven,
there is no reason why the same principles should not be replicated
during the rest of the year.
Themed merchandising, wrapping service, shopping suggestions, etc, are
all as relevant in May as they are in December.
Christmas is a time of optimism. A time for happiness. A time of hope
for the future. Above all, Christmas is a time for giving and receiving.
If only we thought about marketing it in the same way.