The Media Planning Blueprint for a Profitable Christmas

It’s that time of the year again when, with the last throes of summer ebbing into shorter days and colder climes, attention shifts towards the Christmas season.

For brands, seasonal media planning should now begin in earnest. According to the Financial Times, around 30% of yearly sales in the retail sector occur over the festive period, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday leading the charge.

Changing habits

Yet, upon the backdrop of ongoing economic uncertainty, shoppers are becoming both savvier and thriftier. The average household intended to spend £868 on Christmas last year – a mere £6 more than in 2002 – whilst budgets for gifts were £16 less than 15 years ago, at £345.65 per consumer. According to Switch, the average person intended to buy presents for 12 people, equating to an average of £28.80 per present.

In order to make our money go further, we’ve fully embraced the Black Friday and Cyber Monday phenomena first seen across the pond. Retailers have responded by extending the one-day format to week-long deal bonanzas, with research from KPMG showing that 62.9% of shoppers intend to buy directly from brands, as opposed to third-party retailers. In short, there’s an opportunity for everybody – not just Amazon!

So, with Black Friday starting on November 23rd this year, now is the time to begin mobilising a marketing strategy that will enable you to cut through the approaching noise. But what should your media plan look like?

Reaching out with your media strategy

Key to raising awareness of your products and their value is reach – and there’s no better medium for achieving this than TV advertising. Sure, the likes of John Lewis and Sainsbury’s will inevitably hog the headlines, but with the average adult watching 43 TV ads a day, there’s plenty of room to showcase your brand.

TV provides a platform to nurture an emotional connection with your audience; indeed, 58% of the population believe it’s the most effective channel for drawing an emotional response. What’s more, 55% think television advertising is the medium that’s best for drawing attention to new brands and products, whilst 64% cite it as the one that sticks in the memory the most. All three of these qualities are crucial for advertisers navigating the festive landscape.

But what about budget? With over 300 commercial TV channels and multiple regions available to brands, it’s never been easier to target specific age groups, interests and socio-demographics. This messaging can be amplified and reinforced with radio, press and outdoor advertising that reaches consumers in certain locations, at certain times of the day, and of certain demographics.

Next stop: online

With 74% of people claiming to browse the internet on a smartphone, tablet or mobile whilst watching TV, digital out-of-home blurring the boundary between offline and online, and press advertising straddling both spheres, supplementing an awareness campaign with personalised digital activation is vital over Christmas. According to research from PwC, last year 47.5% of web visits and 33.1% of sales over Black Friday occurred on a mobile device, highlighting the need for a mobile-first strategy.

Additionally, KPMG found that 76.7% of all Black Friday purchases happened online, with 12% of shoppers saying they visited a bricks-and-mortar store to research products before buying over the internet. Overall, UK shoppers planned to spend 142% more on gifts and 207% more on food and drink online than the European average.

Social media, online display and paid search are particularly important over the Christmas season. According to YouGov, of those who said they planned to spend less on Christmas than is customary this year, 57% thought they were most likely to be swayed into making a purchase by online ads. As for those who intend to spend more, online trailed only TV, with 50%. Convenience, value for money and customer service are all quoted as key to securing sales.

The intriguing case of December

Increasingly, consumers are seeking to get the bulk of their Christmas shopping done by the end of November, with over 50% of shoppers claiming to do so. Unsurprisingly, brands are following suit with their marketing.

Such a strategy, however, ignores the still-substantial number of shoppers who leave things later. This creates a compelling opportunity for savvy brands to capitalise on a suddenly emptied field, with market share and sales uplifts both up for grabs.

The last two weeks of December in particular see an exodus of advertisers, with the mechanics of supply and demand consequently driving down advertising costs – particularly for TV – despite huge audiences tuning in.

To substantiate this, our research shows that on Christmas Eve last year, 509 brands were on air, compared to the 2,478 that advertised on November 24th. That’s a whopping 80% reduction, and yet, with post-Christmas and Boxing Day sales still to come, having an always-on presence could be the difference when it comes to brand consideration.

Ready to capitalise?

With an optimised marketing strategy that pinpoints the most efficient media combinations for your brand and product, balancing Black Friday activity with a continued presence in December need not be hamstrung by budget. Your media agency should have the expertise and resources to find the perfect solution.

Ultimately, whether you’re in the retail, travel, FMCG, entertainment, insurance or automotive sectors, this is an opportunity that, if capitalised on, can not only set up you up for a very merry Christmas, but a momentous 2019 too.

Contact us today to find out how our flexible media planning and buying services can place your brand at the top of the tree.