July has been hot, with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees, it seems odd to talk about Christmas... but if you’re serious about your Christmas marketing, then no matter what it’s like outside, you’ve got to crack on.

So whilst most people headed to Bournemouth to sunbathe on the beach, or ventured into the sea for a refreshing dip, on 13th July Adido welcomed guests to The Shelley Theatre in Boscombe, for a Christmas themed strategy event.

Complete with Christmas trees, glühwein, Christmas pudding ice cream (it is summer after all), Christmas tunes, Adido elves and Santa Claus himself guests were transported into a world of magic and sparkle for the afternoon.

christmas countdown

Dr nick southgate, behavioural economist

First to the stage was Dr Nick Southgate, a behavioural economist who spoke to us about behavioural economics and the paradoxes of Christmas.

Dr Nick Southgate Adido Attention
Behavioural economics in its simplest state is the study of how we REALLY make decisions compared to how we HOPE to make decisions, and at Christmas time, there are plenty of good and bad decisions to be made…and brands can either make them easier or harder for consumers.

Basket behaviour - we dislike processes that we don’t expect

Drawing upon the study The $300 million (continue) button Dr Nick shared the impact of tiny mental efforts which can distort our behaviour (due to choice of language, order of questions, requests that don’t make sense etc...) which inadvertently can cause basket abandonment, frustration or dissatisfaction during decision making. On the other hand, he also explained that we’re quite malleable human beings when we see new opportunities, so a simple change of tact or message could get you the results you’re looking for in your campaigns.

Heuristics - people think in shortcuts

We use rules to shortcut decisions to make it easier for us. Brands are well-known heuristics, so during Christmas gifting it’s important to make sure your brand perception is what you want it to be, plus if it’s not already, make your brand become a shortcut for shopping success (especially during last minute shopping behaviour).

Christmas is a fraught time, buying a good present for others can be particularly stressful, so if brands can provide decent shortcuts, signposts and reassurances that buying their item will lead to a well-received gift, then that’s got to be a good thing, right?

The science of gifting

You’ll have to watch the video to appreciate Dr Nick’s exploration of the gift of giving, including Scroogeconomics, the definition of a great gift, the beauty of hard to find gifts and the power of the gift substitute. I cannot do his stories justice.

In summary though his brand advice was:

  1. Make it easy - remove barriers to conversion (e.g. long winded checkout processes / registering for an account before buying)
  2. Bridge the gifting knowledge gap - help guide people and reassure them on their decisions using explicit gifting terminology and categorisation
  3. Create better alternatives - sell experiences and deep immersion gifts or offer access to something unusual in your gift options. This will elevate the givers gifting skills and they’ll thank you for it
  4. Show you get gifting, and its perils - provide good returns policies & delivery options
  5. Communicate the feeling of success - the outcome will allow the gifter to know they won’t be wasting their money buying from you

Mark ashley miller, the present finder - owner

Next up on stage was Mark Ashley-Miller, owner of The Present Finder, and long term friend of Adido.

Mark provided the business owner’s perspective on running an ecommerce business over the festive period. In fact his business now turns over 80% of his revenue during the four week Christmas burst! so he knows a thing or two about the trials and tribulations of Christmas marketing.

mark ashley-miller

He shared his experience from three perspectives (you can also watch the video here):

The pressures

  • Products - getting the right ones, planning well-in advance, predicting the trends and ensuring you have enough stock when the time comes
  • Suppliers - building and maintaining good relationships (paying on-time will keep you in good favour), selecting reliable suppliers
  • Space - having enough, making sure it’s flexible to cope with influx of stock
  • Staff - hiring the right staff, keeping them motivated during busy periods, reviewing their shift patterns to cope with orders & fulfilment
  • Customers & orders - managing expectations and driving order demand
  • Length of “season” - 6 weeks of gift buying shortened to 4 weeks now. Weather can trigger the Christmas gifting mood. The arrival of the John Lewis advert or the Coca Cola truck?

The pains

  • Snow! - Keep the lines of communication open
  • Juggling - cashflow, stock, over-stock
  • Crying - when a bestseller runs out!
  • WISMOS - “where is my order?” - managing expectations and being contactable. Manage these communications well, otherwise negative reviews can damage you.

The pleasures

  • Y people like to work hard and be busy” - Christmas ecommerce certainly does this during a 6-8 week period!
  • Watching the orders come in on a daily basis
  • Feedback - happy customers :-)
  • Unexpected bestsellers
    • Seeing your business grow (via the size of Royal Mail lorries which have to be ordered to pick up orders)
  • Competitors running out of stock, when you still have stock to sell
  • £££s

He also shared some insight into tests he’s run to make his business more effective and profitable:

Price elasticity of demand - testing the price people will be prepared to pay for your product dependent on its demand (and scarcity) - but be careful, you may end up charging the earth for something if someone is prepared to pay, but then they realise it was ludicrous & complain (this happened to Mark & a tube of Jaffa Cakes).

Intelligent merchandising on the website - experimenting with product placements across the site - popular products / high stock items / bestsellers / high margin products

Multi-channel tracking - The Present Finder still send out catalogues, although they would prefer that people buy online. They have accepted that a multi-channel approach works for them, however they ensure that they can match up customers who receive the catalogue with online orders to appreciate the full ROI of their marketing efforts.

Andy headington, Adido - ceo

After a little refreshment, and with the smell of gluhwein still in the air Santa Claus himself turned up, for a fleeting moment to say hello. Andy Headington notably absent during this brief interlude, then re-appeared, suspiciously with a pair of red Santa trousers on, to present his talk on Attention…

Adido Attention Christmas

Andy Headington Adido Christmas

After some hard-hitting, thought provoking quotes and statistics about our fleeting attention spans and multitasking behaviour, Andy shared his 5 tips for Christmas to gain and retain consumers’ attention.

      1. Seamless UX: There is no digital. Make your customer experience is as seamless as possible. Think omnichannel not (digital) silos.
      2. Time to give: People like to give so tap into this trend with offers and freebies.
      3. Slow it down: Christmas is a time for relaxing and taking our time for things – make things longer than usual, more time consuming on purpose and more engaging.
      4. Who’s been a good boy? - How well do you know your customers? Segment your customer database and re-engage with them based on their purchase behaviour with you
        1. Show the top spenders the love at Christmas
        2. Tempt sporadic customers back
        3. Test and know your break-even points for marketing efforts
        4. Who are your top 20% (which deliver 80% of your revenue)?
      5. Plan ahead!

He ended his talk with some great quotes…





You can watch his talk in full here.

Ira dubinsky, m&s - head of brand & marketing - Christmas

Last, but by no means least, Ira ended our seminar with the thought that “Christmas is coming…” and whilst he couldn’t give us a sneak peak of this year’s M&S Christmas advert (they are yet to film it) , he did offer some great pearls of wisdom which were lapped up by our guests…

Ira Dubinsky Adido Christmas

During Christmas, Ira expressed his views that creativity is paramount, understanding your customers is key, but the basics of marketing remain the same, and we shouldn’t get too carried away with the emotion of it all. M&S unlike other brands has tried to stay focused on products, rather than the emotion during their Christmas marketing campaigns. Funnily enough I put ‘creating a Christmas campaign for the sake of it’ on my marketing naughty list this year.

Sell the sausage not the sizzle

Staying true to who you are, why you’re in business and what your brand promise is, is doubly important at Christmas. Ira introduced us to the acronym “BHAG” - Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.

Your BHAG should take little or no effort to explain, and should drive the focus of your business.

For example, Nike’s would most likely be… “Crush Adidas” (not their slogan, Just Do It). Yorkdale, a Canadian shopping centre’s BHAG was "to be #1 fashion destination for Christmas last year."

Content is king, but context is everything

Aligning with Andy Headington’s talk on Attention, Ira reinforced the importance of moment marketing, and thinking about the customer journey in order to be in the right place at the right time. He stressed the need to trust people within your team to be observant of what is going on, to react accordingly, and to be inventive in the moment for the benefit of your business.

When thinking about Christmas moments he mentioned thinking about the office party, mailing dates (last 1st class delivery, last 2nd class delivery) etc… but also highlighted that customer journeys are not linear anymore, they are pretzel shaped (in other words extremely complex!).

Don’t assume they’re interested, or yours

Ira boldly claimed that most people don’t know much about the brand they buy, and that most reasons why people interact with brands on social is to get a discount. We’re fickle human beings.

Your consumers are just someone else’s consumers, who occasionally buy from you, and therefore to build on what Andy Headington was saying, it’s not necessarily so much about getting their attention, the challenge is actually getting your consumers to care (about your brand/business).

In summary

It seemed mad to think that businesses start thinking about a Christmas season up to 18 months in advance, and in M&S’s case they are often planning the next season and implementing the current season at the same time. I don’t know how they do it!

But for many brands it’s the most important time of the year for sales, and something that can’t be left to the last minute. This event really drilled home how important it is to get your scheduling and planning right, and well in advance.

Hearing from retailers like The Present Finder and M&S, I also understood how critical it is to be flexible in the lead up to the main event, as you never know what the weather, your competitors or in fact consumer behaviour will challenge you with!

Watch the showreel.

Attention Christmas fun

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Meet the author ...

Kherrin Wade

Strategy Director

Kherrin works with clients to develop effective marketing strategies, whether that's introducing brands to digital for the first time or pushing the boundaries with more ...