Opinion

Will your brand's COVID Christmas be a cracker or a turkey?

Tristan Morris

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23.10.2020

Christmas is going to be on the usual date. The only other thing we know for sure is that it will be a Christmas like no other. 

Extended families will be kept apart. Parties will be happening on Zoom (if anywhere). Santa's going to be in lockdown, just like everyone else.

But what does a coronavirus Christmas mean for businesses that rely on Yuletide for a big slice of their annual income?

Amazingly, it's not all uncertainty and gloom (although there's plenty of both going around). There are glimmers of hope for at least some sectors and brands.

However we spend Christmas, we'll still be spending

Sadly, there's no doubt that many families will be struggling this year. But others may even be slightly better-off thanks to the "working from home dividend" — earning the same but spending less with no commute. 

In any case, there's strong evidence that even a global pandemic won't stop a lot of people from shopping and celebrating. Let's look back to 2008, a different but comparable recession. Consumer confidence was in crisis that Christmas just as it is now, yet UK grocery sales rose by 8.1%. 

Staying in is the new going out

It seems a safe bet that the traditional pre-Christmas party splurge will be either disappointing or non-existent for restaurants, bars and event venues. That's terrible news of course, but the season will continue to be festive in its own strange way. People will simply be doing their partying at home. And that means they'll be buying more booze and treats for in-house consumption.

Everyone is bargain hunting

A recent WARC report forecasts two shopping trends to emerge from the prevailing economic gloom and threat of job losses:

A preference for own-brand products, which are seen as better value than classic brands.

A tendency to focus big spending on Black Friday and similar mega-sale events.  A research project by YouGov on behalf of Facebook found that this was already the intention of around a third of shoppers as early as April. The figure can only be higher now.

Online shopping is still shopping

Clicks have been gradually replacing bricks as people's shopping preference for years. Suddenly there's nothing gradual about it. Experts are predicting an unprecedented peak for online shopping this December - so book those delivery slots early!

However the experts also think it's very likely that a lot of people will want to hit the supermarket aisles in person for the last pre-Christmas shop. Just to make sure the mince pies don't get substituted by something less festive at the last moment.

Ads will still be stirring our emotions

Fancy some nostalgia for the last proper Christmas? Take a look at this review of 2019's top performing TV ads — and prepare to feel a bit weepy.

It's a reminder that, as advertisers and marketeers, we can all do our bit to cheer the nation up with fun and thought-provoking work. And making that effort is also the best way to keep our brands healthy for the post-Covid future. Which is coming, as surely as Christmas is.

Want to speak to an expert about your Christmas strategy? Contact Robbie Pringle on [email protected] or 0161 441 4740.