Christmas! On a personal level it's way too early to be thinking about Christmas stockings, sherry and Santa, but with my professional elf’s hat on, it's never too early to plan your festive campaign. And we can help.
The urgency with which you need to allocate time to planning for Christmas will vary depending on which sector you operate in. Retail, tourism, fashion, travel, cosmetics, confectionery and luxury goods all profit from increased sales at this time of year.
I spent five years in the hospitality industry where May and June were the months that you sorted your Christmas menus, pricing, campaign artwork and website. If you didn't sort these things before the start of the Summer season and Chefs got busy, then you would not be ready for launch early in September.
But this year, all accepted theory has gone out of the window. If you benefit from increased sales in the run-up to Christmas, you will likely have your festive product lines sorted. But, the question remains - how and when to start advertising? When feels right?
In the middle of a global pandemic, consumers' priorities have shifted and immediate focus is quite rightly on getting people safely about their daily lives, never mind the frivolity of Christmas time.
The counter-argument to that would be that a little bit of frivolity and unabashed fun is just what we all need. Yes, planning will be tricky with the threat of a second wave of the virus, and layering in seasonal flu and other germs in the Winter months compounds the threat of disruption.
As businesses, we need to be making plans, but I think this year could see Christmas campaign roll-out coming later than the usual 1st of September as consumers make more last-minute decisions.
We should also be thinking about contingencies for our messaging and creative, should we need to change it. We don't yet know if there will be a spike in cases of Covid-19 or even another lockdown, locally or nationally.
If you are in manufacturing or consumer goods, no doubt you are looking at a more global picture. With supply chains spanning different countries and continents, a local increase in cases of the virus could impact the availability of components or finished goods.
My advice would be to make plans as you would normally do, but accept that rolling out a tweaked version of last year’s campaign is probably not going to cut it. It is the year of contingencies and if-this-then-that planning.
Consumer behaviour and the way we shop has shifted since the start of the outbreak of Coronavirus. Are you geared up for more online transactions? Do you need to think about revisiting your website or SEO strategy to bring more organic traffic to your site?
If you are looking for a sounding board for your Christmas campaign ideas, we are here to help. Whatever stage you are at, we can offer another perspective and help you to be ready when it feels like the right time for your business to launch for Christmas. We'll make a list and check it twice. Sorry.
Merry Christmas, one and all.