We look forward to the holidays for different reasons; family, friends, and most importantly - food.
For most of us though, our minds revert back to our childhood. Opening Christmas presents before the sun is up, tearing open bags and boxes we spent the last month shaking for hints. Without hesitation, most of us day-dream about what Santa will be bringing us this year.
For business owners however, toys and tinsel are pure dollars and cents. The holiday season means collecting in on the rush of consumers looking to clear off their shopping lists. This isn't a bashful concept, even the traditional heart-warming Hollywood Christmas movies shine a light on consumer habits.
Anna Kendrick illustrates this popular question in the Disney feature film 'Noelle'. Her homemade Christmas cards sum it up perfectly..."What are you getting this year?", the card asks the recipient, gleefully.
As business owners we know the effect of the holiday shopping season.
Year after year, consumers seem to be spending more during the holidays. In December of 2017 Canadians spent $19 billion on commodities, which is up from $14 billion the previous year. The average spender drops approximately $643 on holiday gifts, according to a survey commissioned by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA).
Here's the problem - more shoppers doesn't necessarily mean you're going to clear out your back shelves. Big box chains and online retailers alike plan ahead to ensure they absorb as much of these free-flowing dollars as possible. To ensure success during the holiday season, it's crucial that your business plans ahead.
Tips From Christmas's Past
Before we can dive into a plan of action, let's look at how we got here as consumers and business owners.
A brief history of holiday commercialization shows just just how our economy has evolved into its current state. The below example is a perfect instance of what is needed to leverage exposure and customer engagement to maximize sales.
The commercialization of Christmas dates back to the mid-19th century. Prior to this, Christmas was spread over several days and consisted of much celebrating and carousing (especially in the mid-Atlantic states and the South). The holidays were seen as a hindrance to businesses because people were out enjoying themselves rather than shopping and getting work done.
Cue Santa's Makeover
Businesses eventually came to recognize Christmas as a genuine merchandising opportunity. Santa Claus was originally a gift-giver who rewarded children that have been good, and punished children who misbehaved. In 1920, Coca-Cola created advertisements featuring a heart-warming image of Santa Claus garbed in their red and white corporate colors. The judgmental Santa had become the jolly gift-giver.
By 1931, the classic image we know and adore today was seen everywhere from ads to newspapers and magazines, such as National Geographic and The New Yorker. By the late 19th century, department stores were creating elaborate seasonal store windows, competing with one another for the consumer's attention. Alas, the secular Christmas season became centered around luring consumers in the door to increase sales.
How Soon Can We Launch
"Black Friday" is the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. and U.K., which marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas retail season. The name finds its origin from retailers experiencing a boost in sales, turning their losses to profits (from running "red ink" to operating "in the black").
To be clear, this time of year isn't the retail equivalent of a migrating salmon. Customers aren't going to simply wake up and walk into our businesses with money to spend. Smart business owners increase engagement and brand awareness in the months leading up to major shopping days as early as October.
Why is Early Engagement Key?
Today's consumers are less likely to make trips to multiple stores, especially with the increase in e-commerce and more recently 'Cyber Monday'. If a customer is going to brave the traffic and the mobs of other shoppers the day after Thanksgiving, they are going to do so with specific stops in mind.
Conor Bond of WordStream (an online advertising agency) states that "The holiday season is a time to make sales—not a time to