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Capitalising on Christmas - The 3 Key Questions Every Retailer Should be Asking

Christmas is a pivotal time of year for retailers, with success or failure having a disproportionate effect on the profit performance for the year.

Many retailers make nearly half of their profits in the three months before Christmas according to the Centre for Retail Research. Advertisers start thinking about Christmas in July. So, it’s this time of the year that some pretty critical decisions are being made. We’ve pulled together some analysis and three killer questions that will help to stress test your strategies.

1. Have I Got the Right Balance of Brand vs Activation?

Headlines about Christmas often focus on the rise of digital. Whilst it’s true that digital shopping behaviour is on the increase, eMarketeer puts 2016 ecommerce at 20% of total retail sales at £16.9 billion and a 15% increase on the previous year’s £14.65 billion. However, they also point out that in-store physical sales still dominate, at 80% and £66.32 billion in value.

Headlines about the rise of digital tend to make us confuse point of purchase with campaign objectives. We start to ask ourselves about the right balance of online vs offline media and conclude that digital growth means we should be spending more there. What’s more important is to ask, have I got the right balance of brand vs activation? In the lead-up to Christmas it will be important to achieve brand standout, closer to the time you’ll need to covert to purchase via activation.

A new report from Enders reveals how the balance is tipping too far towards activation. It’s important not to get diverted by a short-term approach, and it argues that the right balance is 50/50. Brand activity allows you to achieve more profitable sales at a premium price position. This means you’ll be more focused on overall value of returns rather than volume and be less reliant on sales promotion.

2. In My Media Mix is There a Clear Role for Each Element?

Within your brand and activation strands you’ll also have a number of KPIs. On the brand side, these will probably include awareness, recommendation, brand metrics such as brand affinity and differentiation, purchase consideration and sales. On the activation side, these are likely to include a range of response signals such as clicks, social signals, website visits, store visits and sales. Different media have different strengths and weaknesses, so aligning your objectives with a channel to give it a role is a good starting point.

Work that we conducted with Millward Brown provides useful guidance when determining your media mix. It reveals that TV and online video are best for driving awareness. With magazines, newspapers, outdoor and radio having distinct strengths within different brand KPIs. Magazines are the strongest all-rounder on key brand KPIs and have a particular strength within differentiation, which is especially critical at Christmas. For examples of how magazine media has delivered against brand KPI’s at Christmas check out our ghd, John Lewis and Not On The High Street case studies.

3. How Can I be Sure my Activity Will Capture the Consumers Attention?

The amount of advertising clutter combined with the trend towards consumer ad avoidance is an ongoing issue (22% of British adults online are currently using ad blocking software), this is likely to be exaggerated further at Christmas time when advertising activity increases. Placing your advertising in environments where the message is welcome instead of seen as disruption is key to success here.

Our study ‘Moments That Matter’ provides some useful data. Magazine media, Newsbrands and TV do well against these metrics compared to online and social channels. Magazine brands provide the most welcome environment. 

The expertise of magazine brands in their distinct interest areas garner more attention. Work conducted by Moat the digital analytics company, provides evidence that online magazine environments achieves higher levels of attention than other online environments. 

Christmas in July Pic 4

As well as engagement, magazine brands achieve elevated reach over the Christmas period as identified by this ComScore analysis. Total unique visitors to the BBC Good Food site was 5% higher between October-December 2016, compared to the rest of the year. For trustedreviews.com it was 28% higher and for goodhousekeeping.co.uk total 66%. A clear indication that consumers are seeking out content on trusted websites to help them make purchase decisions over the Christmas period.

From TGI segmentation work we also know that those who forward plan their Christmas shopping are more likely to be heavier consumers of magazine media. Full details of the segmentation can be found here.

We hope we’ve provided you with some handy principles for your festives planning, outlining some of the ways that magazine brands can be a valuable addition to your Christmas campaign. Because of magazine's strong performance against brand KPIs, and their ability to provide a welcome environment for advertising, magazine media can help you reach an audience looking for inspiration and to spend money.

For more information contact insight@magnetic.media