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Planning for in-season success

Julie Vigne Senior Research Director 17/09/2020

It’s never too early to think about Christmas, if you’re a marketer that is! As a shopper, you might feel quite differently and there is a time when mentions of Christmas, baubles, carols, and mince pies are a definite no-no.

For marketers, understanding when the tipping point occurs is critical to a successful in-season campaign.

However, for marketers, understanding when the tipping point occurs is critical to a successful in-season campaign. Preparing for in-season, Christmas, or any other key trading period for their category, is a year-round job for marketers, because the stakes are so high. The Bank of England estimates that over £2 billion was spent during the Christmas season in 2019 with each household spending an extra £800 in December compared to other months.

For retailers it’s all to play for, but let’s not forget that Christmas is a key trading period for manufacturers across many other categories too.

Keys to successful in-season planning

In theory, it’s easy. It’s marketing 101, really. You just need to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time and place, right? In practice, it’s a bit more complicated. We’ve highlighted some key considerations below to ensure you maximise in-season success.

Do you know who to talk to?

Understanding who is involved with in-season purchase decisions and the gifter/giftee dynamics is key, in order to speak to each group’s needs. The difference between shopper and consumer is more acute in-season, when brands need to target both the consumer/giftee to generate interest, in the hope that they request or provide subtle hints as to what they would like to see under the tree, as well as the shopper/gifter who will eventually make the purchase decision. Who should brands talk to? Should there be different messages and communication strategies for different groups?

Do you know when to start in-season messaging?

Pinpoint when in-season behaviour starts – in-season thinking time as much as purchase time – to be able to influence those early considerations and extend the purchase season. Understanding when children start expressing wishes, when Secret Santa season starts (if it starts this year!), or when families start making plans for this year’s Christmas meal is key to planning in-season marketing activities. It is the prime time for brands, manufacturers, and retailers alike, to influence early purchase decisions. This year, with so much uncertainty ahead of us, timing and flexibility will be even more critical than ever. Christmas plans may well have to be adapted, but everyone will still be looking for that perfect Christmas, for themselves and their family.

Do you know which touchpoints to invest in?

Knowing which touchpoints are to be used in order to identify how influential they are when targeting key groups, at the time it matters the most. Purchase decision making will tend to take longer, and competition will be fiercer, so the path to purchase is even more fragmented during the Christmas period. As a result, there will be more touchpoints and they might all have a different purpose, i.e. which are used for inspiration, which are used for research, which can be leveraged for instant conversion? And this year, purchase channels might be very different too. In-store activation tactics which have worked well for years to generate impulse purchases might fall flat if footfall is low, while online activities can expect better ROI.

Do you know what decision drivers to leverage?

Understanding what triggers interest, consideration or conversion for effective messages and creatives. Message is key, this goes without saying, but in-season brings its own sets of challenges. For global brands, is a global brand message appropriate, or should local traditions be reflected? And when does it become appropriate to include Christmas messages and creatives? For each touchpoint, is it about brand building, consideration or ultimately conversion?

Do you know how people are engaging with your advertising campaign?

Creating ads that drive profitability. Every major study in advertising effectiveness shows that TV plays a key role in maximising effectiveness for brands providing high ROI. Creative execution is the biggest factor driving advertising profitability that marketers can influence. This means that optimising your creative can potentially multiply your brand’s profits. It is critical therefore to achieve the best possible execution of your TV campaign.

Can you translate it all into a global and local in-season plan?

Enabling all stakeholders to sing from the same hymn sheet. Brand marketing, media planning, creative agency, trade marketing, category management, global versus local marketing… a lot of departments and stakeholders will have different views, objectives, and hypotheses, sometimes similar, sometimes conflicting. Making sure all stakeholders understand how their different roles work together will ensure a more integrated and therefore a more effective campaign.

Our approach to in-season research

Here at Savanta we’ve developed flexible methodologies to capture in-season behaviour and test current activation, to optimise planning and marketing budgets for the current season and the ones to come.

All our solutions are bespoke, but draw on our extensive experience of shopper research across a variety of categories and for key trading periods (Christmas, Easter etc.)

To find out more about how Savanta can help you achieve in-season success, please contact Julie Vigne, Head of Shopper, at [email protected]