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Research Reveals That Christmas Marketing Needs To Be Early This Year

Research has indicated that millions of consumers are beginning their Christmas 2021 preparations further ahead than ever before – and will be making this Christmas their biggest yet. Marketers - be alert!

Research compiled by MediaCom Manchester, the team that was behind the launch of online value retailer Studio.co.uk’s new #TeamEarly Christmas advertising campaign, which launched 100 days before the big day, has highlighted its key findings into Christmas 2021 trends. 

Millions of brands and retailers rely on the Christmas buying period to boost annual revenue, meaning it is of paramount importance to get into the marketing mix early with your festive campaigns, even if it sparks ‘debate’ that it’s too early by some.

“Indications are clear this year – that the mood of the nation is to start early and go bigger”, advises Paul Cooper, COO of MediaCom Manchester.

“And like with all marketing campaigns in today’s fast-paced environments, what was ‘the norm’ in previous years, when it comes to timings, channels, and messaging, may no longer be relevant for Christmas 2021.”

“This is what we’re seeing with Christmas this year,” continues Charlotte Beech, who heads up MediaCom Manchester’s Creative Systems division.

“With so many cultural elements at play – from post-Covid mindsets that want to make up for the loss of family time due to restrictions, to spreading the cost because they’re worried about domestic heating costs rising – it’s essential that research drives decision making and brands act with agility and relevance.”

Studio.co.uk took an early approach to Christmas marketing

Let’s take a look at the habits of consumers

According to a Sitecore survey, almost half (48%) begin their Christmas shopping in October. This is supported by a similar consumer study by eBay Ads in which 27% of people said that they are planning to start Christmas shopping and preparations earlier than they did last year, a Christmas period dramatically affected by Covid restrictions. 

Online searches for “Christmas” were higher in September 2021 than in the same period in the past 10 years, indicating that shoppers are already more active than previously. The ‘shop early’ trend is also being fuelled by heightened consumer awareness of stock shortages and delivery delays – it’s not just petrol that’s hard to get your hands on!

Paul Cooper said: “While there is always much debate over whether displaying Christmas products on shelves in the summer months is just annoying, especially to those who don’t want to think ‘festive thoughts’ until after Bonfire night at least, the numbers of people who are planning ahead are increasing every year – to the point that this is where the smart money is!” 

Charlotte Beech believes this is something that brands can use to their advantage: “It’s beyond doubt that brands that go early certainly get talked about – even if that’s to say “this is too early! But talkability, in itself, helps to boost campaign awareness, especially in social channels. 

“With more access to data and our ability to track in real-time the impact data-driven creative is having, we’re able to ensure that all campaigns tap into current trends and consumers’ shifting mindsets.

Are brands ready?

Studio.co.uk launched its Christmas campaign earlier than most when the countdown to Christmas was still in triple figures. The campaign, which featured television personality Joe Swash, also included a giveaway of £1000 a month in the run-up to Christmas – which again provided a rationale to run over three months.

“It’s a perfect example of a campaign that brings together media with data and captures the cultural mood of the nation, as we come back together to celebrate Christmas with our families, delivered in a way that has consumer-research at its core and delivered in the environments our audiences know and trust.”

But if you’re a brand and you do not have a John Lewis budget that will allow you to produce a spectacular television advert, or perhaps your creative cogs are ticking slowly, it may be time to consider using influencers! 

Over the past 18 months, it has become more apparent than ever that consumers may react well to high-budget, extravagant marketing campaigns, but they also respond extremely well to content produced by the creators and influencers they are dedicated to following on social media. Not only do influencer campaigns boost your sales and brand awareness, but you may also have the option to hand over creative control to them!

To ensure that you’re targeting all areas of the marketing sphere, this year could be the perfect opportunity to onboard influencers to your festive marketing strategy. 

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