Monday, 19 September 2011

On the first day of Christmas, the product sold to me....

I'm no Ebenezer Scrooge but I am writing this on a crisp, bright early Autumn day and almost as soon as the leftover Easter eggs have been removed from the shelves, so the supermarkets have aisles dedicated to Christmas.

So the news this week that Air Wick, the Reckitt Benckiser air freshener brand, is launching a £3m Christmas campaign to support of its new colour-changing candle, had me wondering about the changing importance of Christmas in the marketing calendar and how brands can best prepare themselves for it.

The importance of Christmas to certain sectors is undeniable. For example, for the gift confectionary sector, the Yuletide season represents more than half of annual sales.
As researchers, we would usually have to have results ready before Christmas for trade presentations early in the New Year ready for the following December.

But it is no longer just about the obviously seasonal products. Just look at the shops on Christmas Eve with people panic buying for gifts as well as food, the effort put in to make the house look ready for the big day, new clothes for parties and dare I say it, even seasonal air fresheners. Getting ready for Christmas is a multi-sector pre-occupation.

In terms of timing research, it can be tricky. For all research you want to try and make the situation as typical as you can - so you would avoid the Christmas season itself for a lot of things. However, with a product designed specifically for Christmas, a special effort may be required to make the research situation look and feel a bit Christmassy if you are not able to research in the lead up to an actual festive season.

As with all good marketing, there is a need for brand fit and there are bound to be a few seasonal shockers jumping on the bandwagon and I wonder if brands with apparent "integrity" or "authenticity" are harmed by being all Christmassy or whether uncharacteristic seasonal brand behaviour is forgiven, rather like uncharacteristic seasonal office party indiscretion.

Anyway - as a person that loves Christmas - amid the same old, same old I do notice when a brand goes above and beyond or is just a little bit different! So amid the Christmas clutter it is important to stand out and research can be key to finding ways to achieve such cut-through.

And with that, I'm going sit back and enjoy the Yuletide scent from my mulled wine and cinammon apple air freshener.


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