Christmas Shopping

Christmas Shopping

Hi, and welcome to my second blog for FMCG News!

This is the week when shoppers start to turn their attention properly to Christmas shopping. I know plenty of shops have been displaying Christmas products for some weeks now, and the manufacturers among you are in the full swing of getting Christmas stock out to the stores. But for UK households, it is only once the autumn half term break is over, and Halloween and Bonfire night have been celebrated, that attention turns fully towards Christmas.

For the fourth year running we are entering the season of goodwill with a certain amount of angst. 2012 has had its obvious highlights, but many household budgets remain under pressure due to reduced incomes or increased prices. So getting the most out of our money is especially important at this time of year. Still, no-one wants to feel they have scrimped on such an important family event, so it isn’t about having the cheapest Christmas possible.

Christmas is increasingly about spending time with family/friends, rather than spending money on family/friends. This means that for some it is out with presents and in with shared festive experiences – having friends round for a meal / night in rather than buying yet another candlestick, or those random boxes of toiletries that only look appealing at Christmas. It also means that the emphasis on catering for Christmas Day is all about food/drink as a backdrop to a lovely time with the family, rather than an exercise in how much food can fit on the table.

It means the competition between brands and retailers at Christmas will be just as fierce as last year, but there are ways of encouraging spending that aren’t all around price point, and worth considering if you are making last minute tweaks to your marketing plans:

– Solutions can be really powerful instore – just look at the benefit M&S has had from its Dine in for £10 offer. By bundling up a range of products into a solution that fits consumer trends, shoppers can be persuaded to spend more or to pick one brand over another. At Christmas don’t just think about a ‘snacks’ promotion of crisps & nuts, but bring other relevant categories into the combination such as beers/wines/spirits or soft drinks. And mince pies are crying out for cream and a lovely drink. It is about creating the occasions / experiences in the consumers mind to drive a purchase beyond one single category.

– It might be too late to change for this year, but Christmas packs can make a real difference. Tins of biscuits are seen by consumers as particularly innovative in how they approach Christmas. They aren’t necessarily first on the shopping list when we think of Christmas, but they look so visually appealing that they can be hard to resist. Not expensive in real terms, but they look like the hostess has made a real effort, and can be a great talking point when reaching for biscuits for friends who’ve come round for coffee.

Just because it is Christmas, and just because so many households in the UK love to have this one big celebration each year, doesn’t mean consumers will spend. They need persuading just as much at this time of year as at any other. Christmas is no time for complacency – and there’s only seven weeks left to make the most of the business opportunity!

Be sure to tell us what’s working well for you & detail any innovative ways you’ll be capturing shopper interest – I’m always interested in great campaigns & will highlight any goodies on here and via twitter.