Seasonal activities dominate our marketing calendars and rightly so. Valentine’s Day alone is estimated to have tempted us Brits to spend £980m in 2016* – making it obvious why retailers are so keen to use key dates as the hooks to hang their marketing efforts off. (*Verdict Retail Forecast).

With this in mind, major retailers will continue to flex their marketing muscle around the most important holidays, seasons, and events like Euro 2016 and Wimbledon.

But what do consumers make of such focused messaging?

Voxpopme set out to explore how the British public feels about these promotions. How? By, asking the Voxpopme video insight community which seasonal activities and promotions stand out for them. Why? To understand the customer’s perspective of the barrage of marketing they face throughout the year.

The video feedback showed how influential the majority of date-specific marketing impacts consumers. The insights revealed the extent of ownership brands could build around distinct seasons and dates to shape purchasing decisions.

Maybe advertising isn’t dead after all

Given the time of year, summertime was front of mind for many video respondents with consumers on the lookout for promotions promising to heighten the excitement of their summer. Optimistic, given the recent downpours in the UK.

Many respondents noted the prevalence of BBQ and garden furniture ads from the likes of B&Q and Homebase, plus the influx of similar ads from the major supermarkets. The clothing industry isn’t missing a trick in this season of sun and happiness either. Several respondents noted Littlewoods’ ad campaign featuring MyleeneKlass had made a real splash this summer.

Christmas and Easter were not forgotten either, but Cadbury continues to dominate the latter with their infamous Creme Egg. The competition for Christmas brand ownership is more intense than ever. Yet, those tear-jerking ads from John Lewis place them above the crowd in the marketing jousting in the most competitive season. Respondents didn’t forget M&S’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s Christmas efforts either. In the product space, Coca-Cola was the brand deemed synonymous with Christmas thanks to the red packaging and the world famous lorry.

When it comes to specific events, Robinson’s sponsorship of Wimbledon appears to be securing them another generation of fans. Euro 2016 may have been miserable for Wayne Rooney and co, but Curry’s did not miss out. Consumers embraced their offers on televisions in the build-up to the big event and saw it as the perfect opportunity to upgrade their viewing facilities.

Clearly, brands can thrive by owning an event, date or season, and building a reputation around it. This approach has the power to create positive customer engagement and advocacy around a given event for years to come. You only have to listen to the water cooler proclamations of adoration for the John Lewis penguin. Join the supermarket queue at Easter and you can hear the debates about what the new Creme Egg recipe will do to Cadbury’s future.

Watch the video above: British consumers talk about the power of seasonal promotions.

Interestingly, there was a distinct lack of attention for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday within the feedback. There was also a complete absence of the Olympic Games and Halloween. Timing is everything, though, perhaps an Autumn version of this study could be on the cards.

There are likely to be other factors for the omission of some of the calendar’s biggest dates. For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it may be due to the intense competition surrounding these events. Or, perhaps they lack the emotional appeal of a Christmas campaign? Regardless, no single brand has claimed ownership of these emerging retail dates in the UK – although Amazon has started to stake a claim.

There is scope to own such a competitive space. You only have to look at Next’shighjacking of the January sales to see it’s possible to own one of the biggest events in the retail calendar.

The question is, how do brands go about owning any such date?
If you take Next as the benchmark, you can see the entire customer experience has been set-up to make Next the natural choice for sales hungry shoppers.

The extended opening hours make the in-store shopping experience easy for customers. People can be in and out with a bag full of bargains before competing stores open their doors. The online experience reinforces the messaging around discounts. It’s wholly focused on Next’s clearance efforts during January. The sale is not seen as a nice to have addition, it’s the dominant feature on the homepage, taking customers straight to savings.

Both in-store and online shoppers could not fail to miss the Next sale because of the focus the high street heavyweight puts on marketing it as the ‘go-to’ sale. Finally, the offers live up to the hype. The Next sale is always perceived to have a huge range of substantial discounts. Consumers aren’t left feeling like they are being flogged the end-of-season clothes to make way for new stock. They leave feeling like they got a great bargain on the items they wanted and will profess their savings to all and sundry.

This word of mouth marketing further strengthens the brand’s position and their ownership of the January sales. The combination of all the above makes the Next brand synonymous with a smooth and appealing experience for customers during the busiest of shopping periods.

Many brands are establishing strong attachments around specific events and dates just like Next. By elevating the customer experience across all touchpoints, brands can build a reputation that sets expectations and encourages consumers to create emotional bonds, linking the company to the event and vice-versa. We wait with baited breath to see which brands will wrestle with the likes of John Lewis, Coca-Cola and Cadbury to try and stake a claim to the events for which we have already made brand associations. And watch keenly as the battle for new dates in the calendar unfold.

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