Santa Claus is coming to town

And so are shoppers. Despite the long-term trend towards online, many of us still prefer the old-fashioned way.- By Stuart Taylor, CEO of Kinetic UK.

It will perhaps come as no surprise to you when I say that the competition to secure OOH space at Christmas time is fierce. With thousands of brands looking to tempt our money from our wallets at the same time, you tend to find the winners are always the ones who are organized. For certain categories where Christmas is make or break season – December alone accounts for 40% of fragrance sales – we have brands now booking space as early as March to ensure they don’t miss out.

It’s not just the planning of communications that is shifting earlier; brands are increasingly earlier to market with their holiday season messaging. Historically in OOH the battle at Christmas has been waged most ferociously across the first two weeks of December, but the last few years have seen activity shift earlier and, in a similar way to TV, it is now not uncommon to see brands active in OOH with Christmas messaging in October. Recently, the Christmas TVC has been having a Superbowl moment.

Consumers now look forward to the release of the latest John Lewis advert for example and OOH, with the amazing quality of sites and HD digital screens that are enabling brands to continue that story out on the street.

While mobile is taking an increasing share of retail sales, as a nation we still love to shop in malls and on high streets and around 80% of our money is still being exchanged in these places. It’s a leisure pursuit for many of us, even in December and we actively seek out inspiration when we shop. While ‘Christmassy’ is a horrible word when said in August in a few short months we will begin to notice little pockets of festiveness and will soon be smitten.

Brands have a responsibility to contribute to the decoration and contribute to the feeling. Whether it’s a sprinkle of fairy lights on a 48 sheet or a full-blown snow shower in Covent Garden, brands that get into the spirit of the season will be enjoyed by consumers.

It’s also where people are during the last shopping moments of the season. Almost half of us (42%) expect to only finish our gift buying in the week before Christmas. I hold my hand up here! And once last online delivery dates pass the only option left is to hit the shops and grab the gifts. With men dominating the last-minute shopping period, brands could be targeting these frazzled and desperate men like myself with relevant messaging over short one and two-day campaigns.

DOOH also offers brands the opportunity to react to sales trends, adapting and optimizing their campaigns to drive consumer action.

The potential for adaptive planning and creativity is ever increasing – destination retail locations such as Westfield London or The Trafford Centre provide a thoroughly modern retail experience and most malls are being rapidly digitized allowing brands to use full motion and dynamic creative. Systems such as Grand Visual’s Open Loop enable brands to have real-time conversations with consumers, rotating copy, integrating social and live data feeds. This Christmas you can expect to see the traditional big beautiful static brand work that works so well for so many brands every day of the year alongside more integrated and immersive activations.

It’s also the first year that retail environments in the UK have been robustly measurable and analysable through the Route audience data system. At Kinetic we now have the ability via our Aureus system to select the right location at the right time and also understand how this space can be used more efficiently with other environments to increase cover. A huge leap forward for the industry and our clients.

But it’s not all about Christmas. The post-Christmas sales see millions of us out on the streets again, chasing a bargain, but bizarrely the OOH market is usually very quiet at this time. For savvy advertisers, there are significant amounts of value to be extracted from the market across most environments in the last two weeks of December. And significant audiences to speak to!

Sources: Kinetic Panel, Mintel, BRC.

amardeep kaushal

Blogger, Marketer & Data Analyst.

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