How to be less cookie-cutter to get more cut-through this Christmas

By Harmony Murphy, GM Advertising UK at eBay Ads

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday now well behind us, retailers have no time to lose to get the most they can out of the Christmas season.

And while our recent research found that four in ten (41%) shoppers planned to complete their festive shopping before December 1st, it’s clear there is still an untapped wealth of last-minute shoppers primed to spend over the remaining couple of weeks.

Yet whilst shoppers are ready to part with their pennies, brands need to be acutely aware of the ongoing impact that the pandemic is having on their behaviour. Understanding the myriad ways in which consumer values, priorities and behaviours have, and are continuing, to evolve will be crucial for them to cut through the competition and ensure they have a lucrative December period.

But what should they do to win their share of the festive market? 

Prioritise brand visibility

Even before Covid-19 accelerated the shift from the high street to ecommerce, online had become an extremely competitive playing field. With Christmas under two weeks away, brands need to make sure they’re using all the tricks in the book to boost visibility and grab consumer attention during the most oversaturated time of the year.

For smaller retailers this may be the time to get creative and finally invest in digital marketing to boost brand awareness and ensure they’re visible throughout the shopper journey. Meanwhile, identifying the most in-demand products using fresh data (more on this later…) and promoting these – particularly where they have a good stock of items which are in short supply elsewhere – will be key for both smaller and larger brands to shift stock.

Remember cookie-cutter content won’t cut it this Christmas

Our recent research also found that 60% of shoppers are hopeful they’ll be able to celebrate as normal this year. But while many people are feeling more optimistic about Christmas, brands must remember that Covid has affected everyone’s situations and expectations in different ways. And, with the onset of the Omicron variant putting a spanner in the works, this is set to continue into the New Year.

In particular, the last 21 months have impacted consumers’ finances — resulting in very different mindsets and priorities this Christmas. For those lucky enough to stay employed or work from home, the hiatus in spending has helped many save, with almost a fifth (19%) saying they have more disposable income compared to pre-pandemic. Yet, for many of the millions furloughed or made redundant, personal finances took a real hit, with over a quarter of people (26%) reporting having less income this year.

With Christmas holding so much meaning, sensitivity and relevance to the current climate will be key to effectively communicating with consumers over the final peak weeks ahead. For instance, advertising big-ticket or luxury items to families hit with the adverse effects of the pandemic might not only be irrelevant but may also chip away at hard-won brand reputation.

Use fresh data to hit the jackpot

Imagine being told to buy a gift for someone but not being told who it’s for. Chances are the recipient isn’t going to be wowed by the gift – and it may well be a waste of money. The same goes for digital marketing. If you don’t have fresh data to target your advertising with precision and make sure it’s relevant to the audience at that moment, then you might as well be throwing money down the drain.

And when we say fresh data, we mean fresh, even real-time, data. After all, if there’s one thing you can depend on, it’s the fact that consumers’ mindsets and priorities will constantly shift. One minute, someone might be on the hunt for a jumper to gift their sister, the next they might be looking for a snorkel for her planned trip to Mexico next year. By harnessing fresh, real-time data insights, brands can deliver a truly premium, personalised, and relevant experience for customers.

With the busiest time of the retail calendar on our doorstep, brands have a final opportunity to supercharge their digital marketing campaigns and win their share of the festive spend, starting the new year in the strongest position possible. Let the Christmas countdown begin!

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