It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and it’s not even Halloween. Many retailers like Restoration Hardware are already decorating for the winter holidays. Target even aired a Christmas TV ad on October 14, three weeks before Halloween and six weeks before Thanksgiving. The Target voice-over announces, “The holidays are coming and they’re gonna be big”.
One consumer replied to Target’s ad in social media: “Hey Target….can I at least finish trick or treating before I get bombarded with Christmas?” Is the accelerated timing consumer-centric or retailer-centric? Is it driven by actual consumer shopping behavior or competitive one-upmanship?
“Christmas creep” has been a marketing phenomenon the last few years, as retailers progressively move the date earlier to claim more holiday shopping. Competition for the holiday dollar will be even fiercer than normal this season.
What is interesting about Target’s campaign is that it’s a strategic change from their earlier marketing strategy. Two years ago, Target’s former CMO argued to keep holiday communication after Thanksgiving: “Guests really tire of these messages when they’re started too early in the season, and it doesn’t align with where they are in their lives. They look at Thanksgiving as family time … and aren’t yet ready to get into the frenzy that defines the Christmas shopping season.”
Competitive strategy and consumer behavior are sometimes at odds. Brands have to balance what’s best for the business and what’s best for consumers. I wonder where the holiday shopping promotion push fits on that spectrum.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)