Lead Forensics

A Christmas like no other: what does it mean for brands?

28 October 2020


This Christmas will be like no other in living memory – but that hasn’t dimmed our enthusiasm for the UK’s favourite holiday. Here, we look at the opportunities available to brands over the festive season.

Spirits are resiliently high

After months of social distancing, scary news reports and the general monotony of lockdown life, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that Brits cannot wait for Christmas this year.

According to new research from Channel 4, 53% of people surveyed say they’re thinking about the big day, with 25% already prepping. What’s more, despite everything that’s transpired this year, 25% say they’re feeling ‘relaxed’ about the festive season.

Spending time with family and friends (rules permitting) is the thing 67% of respondents are most looking forward to this year, while 58% cited the giving of presents as a highlight. Meanwhile, 41% also said TV adverts get them excited about Christmas, with 59% saying they plan on watching a lot of television over the holiday season.

So, your brand will be seen, but will people be buying?

Online is the place to be

56% of those surveyed said they would not be spending any more or less money than they usually would this Christmas, with 47% saying they will focus on quality over quantity when it comes to buying gifts for loved ones. The average working adult will purchase presents for six people, according to the report.

Unsurprisingly given the current context, most of this gift buying is expected to take place online, with 61% saying they feel more anxious about the prospect of going in-store. Speed, ease and the potential to save money are also acknowledged as reasons why, for many, the internet will take on greater importance.

Hearteningly, 31% also plan to buy more presents and food locally this year, offering a potential boost to businesses within the community. 24% intend to spend over £200 on food alone.

However, despite this positive outlook it’s important to remember that for many, Christmas this year will be a financial struggle. Advertisers must show sensitivity in their heightened efforts to attract customers who will understandably be more discerning in their purchasing decisions.

What can brands do?

In short, the UK public wants businesses to showcase the true meaning of Christmas in their advertising more than ever.

When asked to summon a word that encapsulates the season, ‘family’ was one that many participants chose. Now, whilst you don’t need to be a social psychologist to work out the link between family and Christmas – nor the extent to which we miss our family and friends after months of distancing – this does offer an insight into the themes and creative messaging consumers will likely respond to.

Perhaps most importantly, advertisers need to ensure that purpose and positivity sit at the heart of their communications; indeed, it should come as no surprise that consumers crave happy and cheerful content to break up the constant stream of negativity we see on the news.

Yet brands must also acknowledge the crisis – not bury their heads in the sand and hope people do the same. Compassion and offers of financial support – whether that’s discounts, coupons or loyalty cards – should be at the forefront of festive strategies, as should partnerships with charities and community initiatives. We’re all in this together – and that includes businesses.

A sackful of opportunities

Though the weeks leading up to it invariably usher high levels of competition for airtime, eyeballs and sales, curiously we see a significant drop off in the number of brands advertising over Christmas itself and the days following it.

As a case in point, if we look at the five biggest spenders in TV advertising last year, we can see that their impacts – or one viewing of an ad, by one person, on one occasion – decreased by 42% between December 23rd – 29th, compared to the week before. The difference is even starker when you look at the first week of January, with a 78% fall in impacts. This trend can be broadly seen across the whole TV market.

What this means is that there is an opportunity for smaller businesses to muscle in on the market, capitalise on lower rates and grow their share of voice. If the message and media strategy are right (with the potential to supplement TV with PPC, paid social, display, press or even radio activity) then there’s a huge opportunity to engage a nation where 74% of its inhabitants claim to browse the internet and research products or services while watching TV.

So yes, Christmas this year will, in some respects, be unlike any we’ve experienced. Yet in many ways, nothing has changed: we’ll still be spoiling the people we love as best we can; celebrating the occasion with lots of TV; and above all, reflecting on what’s truly important in life.

It’s up to brands and their agencies to ensure the challenge is approached correctly. Do that, and there could be plenty of festive cheer this Christmas season. Talk to us to learn more about the opportunities available.

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