Thought Leadership

Should brands be doing more to deliver joy to consumers this Christmas?

After a year of hardships, the festive season marks a time to give back and spread joy

Josie Shand

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Christmas is traditionally a joyous time to be spent with friends and family. A moment of togetherness that has become more precious in the wake of the pandemic. This Christmas we need to be more optimistic than ever for what lies ahead and grateful for the small things that make the festive season special. Let’s face it, after what has been a financially strenuous and politically tumultuous year, we all deserve a bit of end-of-year joy.

For advertisers, this time of year provides the opportunity to spark joy through giving back, heart-warming Christmas narratives or purpose-led advertising. Yet beyond the responsibility of advertisers, brands can always do more to uplift customers during the festive season.

With this in mind we asked industry leaders should brands be doing more to deliver joy to consumers this Christmas?

Ryan Lacey

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Head of Content

Pitch Marketing Group

The world is f&cked.

Spend 2 seconds opening the papers or scrolling Twitter.

It’s loud and clear. We are totally and utterly f&cked.

Climate Change, the lack of diversity & inclusion, the cost-of-living crisis.

So many important causes out there right now.

Occupying the bandwidth and headspace of millions of people.

& rightly so.

But can I please add one more cause to the list?

Save Christmas.

That last bastion of Joy.

The time of the year when it all gets a bit silly.

Like drinking snowballs.

Having turkey, beef, gammon & nut roast for dinner.

Then having it for the cold buffet. And breakfast.

Matching family pyjamas.

Decorating a dead tree.

Paper hats.

Singing.

The creepy old bloke with the beard and a giant sack.

These things are special.

It’s what people care about.

We need to save Christmas.

From becoming like the rest of the year.

From becoming a platform for change.

It’s bloody CHRISTMAS.

Not COP28MAS.

If we don’t, then we really are f&cked.

And maybe in some funny kind of way.

By saving the Joy that is Christmas.

We will have a reason to save the world. 

Ella Britton

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Strategy Director

Behave and Total Media

This Christmas, brands are being faced with severe economic downturn. During tough times like these, brands can really benefit from going that extra mile to ensure their consumers feel a sense of joy. Laughter is the best remedy, so being able to deliver an endorphin hit will ultimately see brands reaping benefits.

Creating a safe space for people to have a moment of joy in their hectic lives can prove really effective. We can see more brands tapping into things like nostalgia to spark those child-like feelings of joy. Ultimately if you can achieve this, it will build a stronger emotional connection with your audience, and in turn strengthen brand loyalty.

 It's also worth noting that there are a number of consumer trends brands should take into account when trying to retain customers. Transparency and consistency are equally as important, now more than ever. Brands need to prioritise clear and direct communication, and in turn they can expect to see loyalty. Consumers want to see the 'human' behind the brand and with a combination of joy and transparency, this can prove to be a recipe for success.

Rowenna Prest

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Chief Strategy Officer

Joint

I don’t think brands do deliver true joy at Christmas. Yes, they can offer us delicious Christmas fare and the right things to put under the Christmas tree but really joy comes from having a bit of a break from the day-to-day, being together with loved ones and creating moments that will live on far longer than the day itself. I personally can’t wait to see my 18-month old’s face when he sees our gaudy Christmas tree and goes into hyperdrive having worked his way through his first chocolate penny.

However, brands can help support joy. And recent Kantar data shows that support is needed now more than ever with the average Christmas dinner costing almost 10% more than it did last year. So, the classic mantra to brands to either be helpful or entertaining rings true now more than ever. Help by saving customers more on the things that make Christmas; help by ensuring customers find it easy to actually get to their loved ones; help by not pushing customers into a New Year’s financial hangover. And fill our media with content that raises a smile, is worth sharing or even worth talking about.

Billy Rigg

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Strategist

Leagas Delaney

It’s hard right now to reject the idea that the world is in a fragile state. War, climate change, inflation, strikes – it is a bleak picture. For advertisers planning Christmas campaigns, work will have started many months ago. Hardly happier times but certainly the context has become more challenging as the year has progressed. How then does a brand successfully navigate its way through the months from planning to execution, ensuring that it ends up striking the right balance in its work? And what role, if any, should joy play in the process?

In past years, bar the odd sparkly exception, advertising seems to apply different rules at Christmas. Tropes are allowed to win over insights and convention to triumph over courage. “Bah humbug”, I hear you say. Well, maybe, but this year – of all years – the advertisers that seem to be winning are those that are genuinely listening to the environment, taking the time to truly understand their audience and the role their brand plays, just like at any other time of the year. That doesn’t mean the end of joy but instead a better understanding of what joy means this Christmas.

Hannah McIntosh

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Digital PR Director

Croud

The festive period can be a challenging time for many consumers, with this year’s Christmas looking particularly different for many families as the cost-of-living crisis continues to rise and financial difficulties are a reality for many. Amid the economic turbulence, it’s key that brands are mindful of messaging within the current climate, avoiding tone deaf communications and a ‘patronising’ approach to cost-saving. Delicately balancing creative engagement methods and empathetic messaging can help consumers feel supported across the festivities, whilst CSR initiatives can shine a spotlight on a brand’s commitment to supporting its community. 

Whilst brand CSR is for life and not just for Christmas, it’s an essential time for companies to find ways to give back to consumers, which in turn can lead to unlocking new audiences and strengthening brand loyalty amongst its current audience. Brands could reflect on different ways they can share kindness and give back this year, whether it’s supporting or collaborating with non-profit or charitable organisations or arranging initiatives which can spread joy to consumers. To enhance consumer connections, creating meaningful, memorable experiences is key and organisations could consider creating festive ‘lifts’, such as holiday promotions, giveaways and supportive content to approach Christmas consciously.

Emma Searle

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Marketing Director

VERB

Absolutely - we work with luxury brands at Verb and our clients are uniquely placed to spark joy and provide moments of escapism, especially during the festive period.

Brands and marketers are naturally trying to be empathetic towards the financial situations that many families across the country are experiencing; luxury brands in particular have to negotiate the fine line between providing inspiration and aspiration vs being crass or displaying products associated with wealth during an economic downturn. However, we shouldn’t let this stop us from being joyful and creating magic in people’s lives.

The best way to do this is to focus on the values that most luxurious brands uphold: craftsmanship, exceptional service and high quality. Brands can focus on inspiring people to find that perfect, beautiful gift that will bring happiness to their family. It’s also about framing Christmas shopping as a way to treat loved ones, and not about spending a lot of money or being excessive.

Ben Scoggins

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CEO

Organic

Brands should always be looking to surprise and delight audiences - it’s just a great way to emotionally connect. But this Christmas perhaps there’s even more of an imperative to spread a little joy - shoppers are at a low ebb and cost of living increases mean there’s more deliberation on most branded purchases.

Reading the room and understanding the wider marketing mix is key here. While comms and promotion can spread joy, the more substantive elements of a brand’s pricing, product and placement are sometimes overlooked. Similarly, social and environmental pledges aren’t super jolly but they carry a feel good factor. Knowing how your brand exists in the eyes of your audience is vitally important.

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