When Does the Holiday Season Start for Marketers?


It’s now commonplace to hear Christmas music even before Halloween. For marketers, a longer shopping season can be looked at as a boon, but not without its own issues. A longer shopping season can lead to advertising fatigue in potential customers, as well as derision, frustration, and even outright anger if you are trying to reach someone who does not think that the time is right. But what is the right time for marketers to begin advertising for the holidays? And what is the right method? The answer, like so many answers, begins with “it depends…”

First, let’s discuss why the so-called “Christmas Creep” even occurs. While some may blame it on greedy merchandisers, the answer is actually a lot more innocuous — a sizable percentage of the population likes to holiday shop early. eBay saw a 70% increase of Christmas related searches in August compared to July, showing that holiday shopping is on the minds of some consumers many, many months before the official holiday season begins. In fact, according to Google, “only about 18% of shoppers consolidate all of their shopping to the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday weekend, and by the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period, shoppers have already completed 42% of their holiday shopping.” If there is an audience looking for early holiday deals, it only makes sense for marketers to give this group of people what they want.

That said, a separate study from Deloitte finds 53% of people will rely on Cyber Monday for discounts in 2019, while 44% say they’re planning to snag promotions on Black Friday. The report predicts that the bulk of spending, or $596 out of $1,496, is going toward experiences like travel and dining out.

But what about the folks that don’t want to see a literal Christmas in July? While some folks love shopping for the holidays months in advance, the majority of people won’t begin their shopping until the more traditional shopping season. According to Jenn Deering-Davis, editor in chief of Union Metrics, “If you go out too early, the audience isn’t ready for it, and it’s just a waste of money. If anything, it’s going to irritate people.” And irritating people is not the best marketing strategy.

One way to engage customers during the holidays is by offering special promos along with your regular communications. While it may seem obvious, holiday language alone isn’t enough. As competition for holiday shoppers becomes fierce, consumers go into this season expecting special discounts and those brands who don’t meet those expectations risk losing their interest well after December 25th.

So, when is the right time for marketers to begin advertising? It depends on the brand. Some brands, such as The Cambridge Satchel Company in the UK, start their holiday advertising campaign in October in order to sell to Chinese tourists visiting during their Golden Week holiday season. It is very common on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to take orders months and even years in advance with the expectation of a Christmas delivery.

More importantly, however, it depends on the individual. Some people only like to do their holiday shopping after Thanksgiving. And some people don’t. The important thing for advertisers is to know who is who. Like almost everything in today’s marketing landscape, people want advertising to be tailored to their personal needs. For many consumers, this data can be extrapolated from previous shopping habits, or through AI predictive models. With this information, a marketer can send pertinent offers, in their preferred method of communication, from venues a customer likes to shop at, and can even provide suggestions for their moms, dads, kids, and friends.

The more personalized the marketing, the more successful your holiday advertising campaign will be. And this begins with data collection and interpretation. You must use customer data in a way that provides value based on their needs. The best way to help with this is by using a data orchestration tool. And by uncovering more of your data using orchestration, you’ll have the insights you need to genuinely connect with customers before, during, and after the most wonderful time of the year.

To see firsthand how data orchestration can help your company drive more sales this holiday season (and beyond), schedule a free evaluation with our SA group


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