Christmas is still almost five months away, but retailers are already eager to create their marketing campaigns for the holiday season, and a new survey from the Recommended Agencies Register (RAR) has revealed that branded content will be far and away the most important format for engaging with consumers this year.
RAR asked UK agencies about the “one thing” that retailers should aim to do during the run-up to Christmas Day from a marketing perspective, and a sizeable 42.9 per cent said that “branded content” should be the central focus. This was the most popular answer by a wide margin. PPC (28.6 per cent) came in second, ahead of influencer campaigns (19 per cent) and TV advertising (9.5 per cent).
Harrods opens its Christmas market in August, and marketing experts believe that brands and retailers should also start implementing their content campaigns early. Creative video and engaging written content published across social media can be particularly effective for reaching consumers who can become paying customers later in the year.
“The most effective strategies for Christmas start in September. Invest heavily in brand awareness (through display and content on video and social) to build users’ lists that inform customers’ profiles to target in December with PPC and email,” Luca Senatore of Genie Goals said.
The vast majority of respondents also said that they expect consumer spending to skew heavily towards online and digital again in 2017 rather than there being a resurgence in the high street. This is generally due to the additional convenience and competitive pricing. However, brands have an opportunity to use traditional physical stores as a USP by holding branded events, where consumers can enjoy a unique user experience.
Rebecca Peel of Elmwood said: “Consumers want to shop between channels as their need suits, and we’re fundamentally social animals – a trip to town to meet up for shopping and maybe a glass of wine? Now we’re getting festive.”
Focusing on local markets should also be a priority for brands. Space and Time Media’s Ed Hill added: “Engaging with consumers in their own town, whether through on or offline means, can drastically increase their awareness of a given retailer and allows the client a precise, granular control over the message that is delivered, when and to whom.”