Bring festive feelings to consumers this Christmas

Impero's Head of Strategy on how brands can align with consumer Christmas spending habits

When it comes to Christmas marketing strategies it feels as if consumers are told that every year is “a year like no other”.

Meanwhile, the impending festive season usually heralds the advent of a brand new Yuletide trend: witness the annual business media headline, “Is this the first e-Christmas?”, which ran for roughly the first ten years of the 21st century.

And so, here we are again. Slap-bang in the middle of planning for another year like no other, while attempting to capture the Christmas mood of the nation in the burning heat of… a summer like no other.

Ennui aside, there’s increased pressure for brands to get marketing strategies right this year. Consumers are facing the biggest cost of living challenge in memory, with steepling inflation and interest rates adding to the stone-cold misery we’re told exploding gas bills will heap on people in winter.

Brands find themselves in a uniquely challenging position of trying to sell at the time of year when competition and consumption is (or should be) at its heaviest, to a target market that is more strapped for cash than it has been for years, squeezed as it is from all sides.

So the question is, how can marketers deliver a Christmas sales miracle? 

We recently conducted research as part of our ‘Cash Strapped Christmas’ series, which saw us poll 1,000 UK consumers to understand how they’re feeling about this year’s festive rush. We wanted to understand more about how they’re prioritising their spending, and whether they’ll be making any changes to budgets or the types of items they buy this year.

The results are in – and we can breathe a little sigh of relief. As it happens, the outlook is more positive for brands than we first imagined it might be.

Overall, consumers are allowing themselves to tap into brands that offer ‘hopeful pragmatism’, with 60% of them stating they will actually spend more this year compared to Christmas 2021.

With that in mind, here are three ways brands can get ready to harness this mood and surprising appetite for spending.

Leave emotion at the door

Consumers are more pragmatic than ever in the monetary melting pot of 2022. We’ve had two years of disruption and financial difficulties to contend with, but that is making many of us more resilient and adaptable as a result. That means consumers want practical advice and help from brands that will enable them to have the Christmas of their dreams this year. There’s no need to tug at their heart strings; heightened brand emotion will be a turnoff for many people as they already see Christmas as the light at the end of a long tunnel. In other words, don’t overcook the turkey!

Start your comms early

Consumers are now used to strategising their spending habits, which means brands can make the most of Black Friday and sales events. Marketers must think about communicating earlier than normal to help shoppers prepare to stretch budgets across the autumn, starting their Christmas shop as early as the end of summer. (Another reason for this is that November’s football World Cup and its associated sponsor brands will dominate comms for weeks.) Meanwhile, the way people buy gifts is also changing, with many favouring a Secret Santa surprise element over quantity. So, dial up quality comms around that one special gift they could buy for a loved one.

Demonstrate value 

Consumers are thinking about how they can streamline their spending for the greatest return. Many are rethinking their approach to “silly season”, instead prioritising fewer but better quality experiences during the run-up to the big day. In great numbers they’re also reconsidering where they shop and what they buy, with a fifth of Brits planning to commit to a more sustainable Christmas this year. Greener gifts that offer reuse – secondhand shopping, Facebook marketplace - will do well.

Those are just three ways to present your comms to ensure they align with consumers’ Christmas 2022 spending habits. In a year of financial pressure like no other, brands can still gift wrap people’s perfect festive period.

Featured image: Hulki Okan Tabak / Pixabay

Charlotte Willcocks

Charlotte leads the strategy team at Impero, and works with brands like Havana Club Rum, Dr.Jart+ and Paco Rabanne helping them to connect with the next generation of consumers and to make a cultural impact.

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