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How to run a successful Christmas promotion

The most effective ways to attract customers during the Christmas gifting season

Posted by emma.critchley | 17 September

97 days until Christmas. That’s a scary thought. A less scary thought is that’s only 14 more Monday mornings and approximately nine weeks until the office starts debating whether it’s ‘O.K.’ to switch the Soulful House to Yuletide bangers.

Christmas at TLC usually means Pinterest mood boards and a lot of Asos parcels (and Oliver Bonas, & Other Stories, Topshop…the list goes on), but most importantly it’s about preparation, not for our Christmas party outfits, but for our clients. By December we’re already well into the New Year, making sure all those New Year, New You campaigns are pushed to go live as soon as the nation starts feeling guilty about all that over indulgence.

So with less than 100 days to go, we're already busy working on campaigns for retailers aiming to cut through the seasonal hype. Gaming and toy brands who want to incentivise through a gift with purchase, beauty and personal care brands hoping to capitalise on the glitz and glamour of the party season and food and drinks brands looking to reaffirm their association with the most wonderful time of the year.

In 2017, UK Christmas sales were valued at £19 billion with the average family spending around £821. Of these consumers, 72% spend the most on toiletries and beauty items. With that in mind, we thought we would list the most effective ways to attract customers during the gifting season.

Our top three:

1.   Daily ‘Advent’ – Advent calendars could come in the form of either 12 or 25 days. The most important thing is making the rewards worthwhile, to keep the excitement high.

2.   Social media – This kind of promotion can have a wide reach and encourage more people to get involved with the use of hashtags and brand engagement. 

3.   On-pack promotion – Being big and bold is the key, customers have to know what the reward is as soon as they look at the product. Take a look at the on-pack promotions we have done this year with Carefree and Supermalt.

The most important thing to note when creating a promotion is to not make it too complex as less people will engage. A clear headline and call to action are imperitive. So we took a look at our historical campaigns to find out, what rewards perform best.

Our top three:

1.   Free Krispy Kreme – The Christmas Surprise and Delight campaign we ran for Vodafone in 2017 rewarded customers with either a free Costa coffee, free M&S Christmas Chocolate or a free Krispy Kreme donut. Of the three, the one which redeemed the most was the free Krispy Kreme, geo-targeted to customers who lived within a five mile radius of a Krispy Kreme store.

2.   Free Chocolate – ‘Tis the season to be indulgent. We ran another surprise and delight campaign for Vodafone to test the popularity of three rewards. Customers could choose from either a free mini bottle of prosecco, jelly sweets or a box of chocolates from M&S. Free chocolate was chosen by 53% of customers, prosecco by 39% and the jelly sweets by 8%. 

3.   Cinema Tickets – Who doesn’t love wrapping up warm to go and watch the latest Christmassy flick? Well, it seems consumers love it even more when it’s for free. We ran a free cinema ticket promotion with Bupa at Christmas which was extremely popular. December and January is when a lot of the Oscar nominated films are released, so a great reward if you’re looking to cut through the crowded Christmas market. 

Knowing what influences consumer decisions is something we’re well versed at, but equally, our extensive experience gives us insight into knowing what doesn’t work in Christmas promotions. 

1.   Discount codes – Consumers don’t want to win or receive discount codes over the festive period, there are so many already it simply isn't special enough. Also, consumers have already budgeted for the extra expenditure. 10% or 15% off isn’t enough of a saving to cut through and convince people to choose your product or service. 

2.   Competitions – Consumers are experiencing ‘win fatigue’. When the prize value is so large and only ‘one lucky winner’ gets to experience it. Consumers simply cannot be bothered to enter, they believe their chances of winning are too slim or the prize is too good to be true. Pair this with the overly busy Christmas period of shopping, seeing family and friends and working overtime to compensate for the Christmas break and competitions are just another thing to do. 

3.   The ‘Why do you deserve to win?’ question – Customers hate this question. They see it as, "Why should I have to explain why I deserve to win?" It's a huge deterrent from engaging in the competition. 

The Christmas period is rolling in fast, so if your brand is thinking of creating a campaign to cut through, drop us an email with your challenges and objectives and we’ll get back to you with some ideas. 

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