What brands and consumers can expect for Christmas 2020

With the Christmas countdown starting as early as July 2020, how is your brand getting ready for the year’s most important shopping season during these Covid-times?

Have you been exposed to Christmas ads as early as August 2020? Was your reaction a mix of astonishment and uncertainty? Probably the last thing you’d expect in an already very unusual year.

Yes, because 2020 will be surely remembered as the year where the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the world as we know it. People are living differently, buying differently and, in many ways, thinking differently. Is Covid-19 going to affect Christmas 2020 too?

Consumers starting 2020 Christmas shopping earlier than usual

According to a research by financial comparison experts at money.co.uk, August 1st was officially identified as the best day for Brits to start shopping for Christmas 2020 and bag the biggest discounts.

John Lewis opened its Christmas shop earlier than ever after it found that searches for festive products had nearly quadrupled compared with last year (Guardian, 24 August 2020).

In US Burger King ran a multichannel campaign to celebrate Christmas in July 2020. Image Source: marketingdive.com. Courtesy of Burger King

Brands have started launching their Christmas advertising campaigns earlier than ever, and this is happening not only in the UK and not just online. In the US, Popeyes has already started the 2021 New Year countdown in Times Square, 135 days early. Burger King ran a multichannel campaign to celebrate “Christmas in July (2020)” aiming to bring goodwill and cheer to consumers during a difficult year.

What Brands can expect for Christmas 2020

According to a report by Pinterest, Earlier than Ever: Holiday 2020, “historically, people on Pinterest start making holiday plans in September. This year, they started searching and saving for the holidays … in April.” The report suggests families, in particular, are focused on making this year’s holiday period feel special by making it feel as normal as possible but better and on a budget.

In facts, a research from Rakuten revealed that the top priority in 2020 is to celebrate in the most cost efficient way possible. Consequently, more than a quarter (27%) of UK consumers are to start Christmas shopping and prepare for the 2020 holiday earlier than usual.

The same trends are confirmed by a recently released Ebay’s Christmas Spend Trends report. The survey, based on a sample of over 2,000 adults in the UK who celebrate Christmas, found out that almost half of consumers plan to do more of their Christmas shopping online than they have done previously, with a third expecting to do all their Christmas shopping online this year.

Consumers are more likely to conduct their peak Christmas shopping via online channels

Surge in demand prompted John Lewis to start online sales 10 days earlier than 2019. Image Source: John Lewis Christmas

What Consumers expect from Brands this Christmas

In touch with reality. Informative. Inspirational. This is what consumers want from brands this Christmas, according to the Ebay’s Christmas Spend Trends report.

A survey by OnePoll and production company Truman Films, found that one-third of consumers said they would feel less positive about a brand that spends a lot of money on Christmas TV ads considering the impact of the pandemic.

Asked about the style of advertising they would like to see, respondents of the OnePoll survey signalled a preference for real stories and a move away from scripted, fictional characters. Just 8% of people thought brands should cast actors over people telling their own stories.

How to plan marketing and advertising this Christmas

At this stage, it is impossible to predict what will happen and what our new normal will be. One thing is for sure: gone are the days when companies and brands were able to plan their marketing strategies months in advance. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, to adopt a strategy that has within it the potential of adapting rapidly to changing messages that reflect the rapid change of the unpredictable times we are living in.

What messages brands need to be sending outs

There are two important messages that we, as a company assisting in the distribution of brand messages, believe that brands need to be sending out right now:

  1. Reassurance: brands need to let their consumers and audience know that they aren’t just still up and running but that they are, even more so than before, here for the long haul. Brands need to show that they are still able to provide the products, services and offers as they have done before…even in a situation of drastic change as with Covid
  2. Innovation: ensuring that how the company is adapting to the current change is being made known to people as this is a demonstration of flexibility and strength at a time when many of our certainties are crumbling.

3 practical ideas to connect with consumers this Christmas

If you are a marketer or a founder working on strategies for the important Christmas period, these are some simple ideas that we at Vertis Media have put together to pivot and prepare your business for the Christmas shopping season.

  1. Create Authentic & Real Content. Respond to customer needs by creating and re-purposing authentic and real content. Reach your consumers with relevant, engaging and timely content and ads on the platforms that most align with your brand values.
  2. Use native advertising effectively. Native ads are informational rather than promotional by nature and may be crucial for your storytelling and for building inspirational and effective Christmas 2020 ads. Native advertising is very versatile allowing brands to rapidly change and adapt overtime to match what consumers require in specific moments and by giving the ability to transform existing assets into thousands of unique ads.
  3. Be flexible. Given the historical moment we are currently experiencing, flexibility is everything. Be ready to adapt extremely quickly in order to react to the changes that are occurring, sometimes on a daily basis.