Tapping into Holiday Truths

1. Altruists All Year Round


Tapping into a collective desire for more conscious consumption, 69% of U.S. consumers are willing to spend more on ethical brands (Stylus, Top 5 Christmas Food & Drink Trends 2019). Age determines just how likely (kNow, 2018). Savvy brands are embedding altruism into their holiday initiatives, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Examples range from interactive packaging with digital rewards to shoppable holiday windows on 5th Avenue featuring small businesses (PayPal). Think about how you’re embedding do-good initiatives into year-round planning, not just over the holidays. Consumers care that what they add to their lives aligns with their personal set of values, and that doesn’t stop on January 1.


Check it out: Pepsi’s 12-packs feature QR codes that enable consumers to play a digital scratch-off game for the chance to win, and then give away, money to friends or charities instantly. 


2. Feisty & Festive 


What’s more universal to the holidays than feisty family feuds? Apparently, 56% of U.S. consumers admit to ‘biting their lip’ during the festive period to avoid arguments (Cision, 2018). Brands are taking advantage of this shared experience by poking fun at holiday woes, but humor doesn’t have to be restricted to your holiday campaigns. Behavioral scientists have found humor is linked to higher recall, so messages infused with a spoonful of humor will linger in your target demographics’ minds. If you can earn a consumer’s chuckle—or better yet, belly laugh—it’s a job well done. Think of comedy as one tool to make invisible, dull, or dark things…seen. The trick is, of course, landing on the right message.


How it’s done: See how Hefty’s line of holiday party cups help you answer the questions you really don’t want to (Stylus, Top 5 Christmas Food & Drink Trends 2019).


If you need another: Lipton’s Holiday Reali-teas present consumers cheeky options like chamomile blend “Dealing with Relatives” and cold-fighter “’Tis the Sneez’n.” 


3. Emotions over Information 


If you can get them to laugh, you’ve earned (at least some) trust. Which means you’ve elicited a release of oxytocin. Okay, STAY WITH US. The hormone oxytocin is arguably best known for its role in inducing labor, but American neuroeconomist Paul Zak also calls it “the love hormone” or the “trust molecule.” When it’s released, we feel bonded, connected, trusting, disarmed. It’s the catalyst for empathy. 


Developing that emotional bond with consumers doesn’t require a sappy holiday spot or the world’s greatest jokes. It does take humility, vulnerability, and comfort with the raw and imperfect human experience. Less Instagram, more reality. And it requires that, as marketers, you’re asking the right emotion-driven questions: “what do we really bring to peoples’ lives?,” not “what do customers think of us?”


Take a look: Ikea’s holiday ad, Silence the Critics, sidesteps traditionally sentimental seasonal spots and playfully taps into a universal feeling this time of year—the dread of hosting. 


And if you’re over the holidays: Babies R Us taps into a real, raw, “what have I forgotten” feeling parents have with their Be Prepared-Ish campaign. 


4. Peer-Pressured Popularity 


You might root for the underdog when it comes to sports, but that urge to support the runner-up doesn’t translate to retail. Because we know a good deal when we see it. And when that’s not the case, we scope it out by looking at ratings and reviews. If you haven’t, check out Trusting Strangers for more on our trust in the masses. New research finds that an additional piece of information has a powerful effect on our tendency to purchase: during Amazon Lightning Deals, the bar displaying the percentage of items claimed. For each 10% increase in the number of items claimed, the rate at which the items were purchased increased by 2%. 


Speaking of popular: We’re proud of our partnership with Enstrom Candies and their feature in Good Housekeeping’s top 54 gift ideas this holiday season!


5. Overchoice = Under-Satisfied


With so many choices, finding a needle in the haystack actually becomes…possible. But desirable? Not so much. Behavioral economists have coined the term “overchoice,” otherwise known as choice overload. And in the context of sales, the consensus is clear: less is more (The Decision Lab). Choice overload makes coming to a decision nearly impossible, and when we finally do, we’re usually less satisfied with the outcome (KelloggInsight)


Studies find one contributing factor is when we’re faced with highly differentiated products: 100ft LED color bulbs next to a box of 96 count warm white lights, 10 meter warm gold string lights, and 16ft remote control-enabled icicle lights. It’s dramatically easier for consumers to choose between JUST color, or design, or durability—for instance—not all three at once. 


Take their word for it: Loved brands like Allbirds and Brandless prioritize utility and simplicity over flashiness and variety, and In-N-Out Burger doesn’t let the times change them. 


Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.

Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.