Our Head of Marketing, Jon Patrick, shares his thoughts on what Christmas 2021 could look like for retailers as the shift from traditional TV advertising continues.

With the talk of supply chain issues, concerns over the spread of coronavirus and changes in people’s working habits, a lot of marketers have been asking the question, what is Christmas 2021 going to be like for retailers?

Many of my industry colleagues have commented in recent posts about how that Christmas staple, the seasonal John Lewis ad had performed in comparison to previous years.

The year-on-year decline in related searches has then made me think about how consumers are making their purchasing choices this festive season.

Remote and television screen

The story of how the John Lewis Christmas ad has been received is part of a broader trend we are seeing in response to traditional TV advertising as, year-on-year, spending on TV advertising is decreasing. There is nothing new in that, it is a long-standing trend with 2020 seeing a decline of over half a billion pounds according to Statista, and 2021 is expected to see an even deeper decrease.

The pandemic has definitely played its part, but how has the changing consumption of media and the shift towards people consuming media via on demand services, Tik Tok and social media platforms, as opposed to traditional television, changed the way we decide on our future purchases?

Without The X Factor ringing in the start of Christmas and those coveted ad slots premiering the year’s festive campaigns, what are consumers being influenced by in 2021?

How am I deciding what to buy both for myself and for family and friends?

A recent study from Sitecore suggests that 40% of people under the age of 44 said that influencers are the best source of inspiration for season gifts and trends. Now before you cough up your coffee, I know I am not under 44, but that statistic has got me thinking.

Does the traditional TV-based marketing strategy of telling that Christmas story, pushing the nostalgia button and focusing on the brand messaging still have a place in 2021 and beyond?

What happens if you are one of the growing number of people who do not watch linear TV? 54% of UK linear networks have reported declines in viewers, (ITV is the exception to this with a 3% gain), but nonetheless, streaming services in Europe have seen an 83% increase in viewing figures. So, as we reach for the Netflix button on our TV remotes in ever growing numbers, as I do, TV advertising alone will not do the job it once did.

Digital CGI screen

Niche is the new norm and being able to talk to your customers in a way that resonates with them is more important than securing that coveted TV advertising slot. Where we might have historically referred to customer segments and grouped people together in areas such as: AB1s or B2s, or pet owners, cyclists, and so on, we now look even deeper, more closely and tailor our marketing voice to respond appropriately. We need to talk to customers individually.

TV, paid search, display, social media and influencers all need to be considered and lined up to deliver great Christmas campaigns. Thinking about customers as individuals and not as part of a group will help retailers navigate the new multi-channel era with greater levels of success.

With all that considered, how can John Lewis regain its Christmas crown?

As digital marketing strategists we should not continue to view TV as a separate entity, or even in some cases the budget enemy, it is, to coin a phrase, another channel.

Television advertising creates awareness and, if included in a marketing strategy can attract people to a brand, that attraction can then be picked up by digital channels and further optimised to talk to customers as individuals as they make their way to purchase.

The starting blocks for Christmas are no longer centred around a single activity, date or TV show. Each customer has their own Christmas trigger and sphere of influence.

Maybe there is no longer a single big win at Christmas, no crown to win, but instead lots of trophies to add to the cabinet.

Want to speak to Jon about developing your multi-channel marketing strategy? Drop him an email.


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