It may be roasting outside, but for marketers, Christmas is just around the corner. Maddie Cullen of Ready Agency provides some tips on targeting consumers during the festive period
Christmas. The busiest time of year for marketers. But it doesn’t start as the nights are drawing in; most people are already planning ahead for the festive season.
Christmas is a time for increased sales, but also for increased competition. Brands fight tooth and nail to be one of the items wrapped up in a bow, stuffed in a stocking or served up for Christmas treats.
Here are a few ways brands can make sure they’re the ones under the Christmas tree this year.
Even Rudolf has one
It should come as no surprise that mobile is the top focus for brands this year. People are increasingly having ‘micro moments’, which are the quick searches and checks on their phones, giving consumers instant information at the swipe of a finger.
It’s these minutes/seconds that brands should be slotting themselves into. If a brand can be a solution to a mobile user’s query, that can be the first step on the journey to purchase.
In the last few years 42% of people planned to do all of their Christmas shopping on mobile. Brands should make sure they’ve optimised for mobile and their site is user-friendly, otherwise a busy Christmas shopper could give up and try somewhere else.
However, it’s good news for those brands that do capture the attention of an eager shopper. Research shows that people are happiest online when shopping! So customers are going to be in a good mood and therefore likely to spend more and treat themselves or others.
But it’s not just during the lead up to Christmas that brands need to be on phones. Christmas Day is actually one of the busiest mobile shopping days of the year. People may have cash burning a hole in their pockets, or a bad present to replace, but either way, they’re actively buying on Christmas day.
Like Father Christmas, be everywhere
But not everyone is doing all of their shopping on mobile – for some people the journey goes on for much longer than that.
More and more consumers are researching reviews, images and videos before buying gifts. This can take them from a product website to their Facebook chat to a celebrities Instagram account and anywhere else they can find.
People increasingly start an order in one place and finish it at another, whether that’s changing from browser to app or from desktop to phone. Omnichannel should be the word on every brand’s lips this year.
Consumers are also splitting up their shopping techniques. Some people research online and buy in-store, and some research in-store and buy online. Brands must make sure that they can accommodate both types by making it easy to buy and providing essential information at every touchpoint. Whether this is on their website or social media or on the packaging, make sure that consumers have no excuse to put the product back on the shelf! (Digital or otherwise).
In the festive season people are out and about more. Socialising takes over sitting in front of the TV or browsing on a laptop – but they’re still on their phone. This is what connects all the research consumers are doing in-store and online.
The success of the strategy can be seen when brands that aren’t embracing an omnichannel approach like Next are failing to engage. Having a nice shop front means very little if your online presence is non-existent. Like consumers, be connected.
You don’t know The Ice Queen?
If there’s one thing we’ve learn from the last year, it’s that influencers aren’t going away anytime soon.
In the winter months they have all the same benefits as usual but amplified. Christmas is the perfect time of year for influencers because people are ready to be, well, influenced. Consumers are constantly on the lookout for inspiration for gifts, decorations, food and anything they can buy to make this Christmas ‘the best one yet’.
Influencers are also great at breaking through the noise and reaching consumers that otherwise wouldn’t be aware of what a brand is selling. This is especially important at the most competitive time of the year!
One in five YouTube views are instigated by a search. This means that those viewers have a ‘lean-in’ mindset. They’re the perfect people to reach with YT pre-roll and brand partnerships. A lot of these people are actively looking for information. A carefully selected influencer can start that journey to purchase for them.
Amazon used influencers well with their Prime campaign last year. They teamed up with a few YouTubers to show how useful the service can be in the lead up to the big day. Ingrid Nilsen assembled a box of goodies for her best friend and her dog and Alex Wassabi collected gifts for his girlfriend. Each of the influencers did something personal and real and showed their millions of followers why Amazon Prime works so well, especially when Christmas shopping.
Utilising content creators generates an added advantage for those brands that do it well at Christmas.
Let’s serve dessert before mains
This year, be different.
John Lewis have set a standard for Christmas advertising to create an emotional, entertaining story. The majority of major supermarkets follow suit. But unless the copycats have a clear enough branding, people will just associate the memory of an emotional ad with John Lewis. The brands that break the mould this year will capture much more attention. Amazon’s ad last year that focused on products actually rated higher for likability than the John Lewis monster story.
That isn’t to say don’t be emotional. Christmas celebrations are rooted in feelings. Brands that lose sight of this risk offending people – as Poundland has learnt from their Elf behaving badly campaign. You can joke about Christmas but don’t go too far as to make a mockery of it. Most people love and enjoy celebrating the holiday and don’t want that feeling dragged through the dirt.
A brand that did this well was H&M, with its ad directed by Wes Anderson. It told an emotional story, but still featured a cast of characters decked out in H&M attire. The story was fun, but the brand message was clear enough that when people thought back, there wasn’t any mistaking the brand.
But remember, what worked one year isn’t guaranteed to succeed the next. People and trends change. Christmas is close to the New Year and summing up the finished year – customers want familiarity, but they want something exciting too. (As we all know from the disappointment of opening up a pair of socks again – thanks grandma!)
Brands need to keep a strong presence online but shouldn’t lack in traditional areas either. At Christmas, every touchpoint counts. Techniques that work at other times of the year, like influencers, still work at Christmas. The difference is, everything needs to be rooted in emotion.
Even if some people eat Christmas dinner after presents, we’re all still human.
Maddie Cullen is Marketing Assistant at Ready, a multi-disciplined creative agency specialising in breakthrough promotional and tactical marketing campaigns. Clients include Soap & Glory, Kiddylicious, Burt’s Bees and Molton Brown.