Published 07 December 2023

18 min read

With spending up but squeezed (3% on 2022 in the US and UK; see Key Stats), ‘tis the season to be mindful – of budgets and social pressures. Responsive brands are reducing seasonal stress with budget-easing festive hacks and supportive “social scaffolding” while life’s messiness is celebrated, virtual engagement ramps up the magic and pampered pets get their own retail zones.

Taking the Pressure Off: Ads Celebrating Perfectly Imperfect Realities

Seasonal ‘Social Scaffolding’: Combatting Loneliness

Dismantling Seasonal Tropes with Strong Female Role Models

Addressing a Christmas Cost-of-Living Crisis

Seasonal Sustainability: Covetable, but Make It Green

Pampering to Pet Parents Whose Dogs Rule Yule

Virtual Engagement: Brandiverses, AR & AI Merrymaking

With more than half of US shoppers stressed and overwhelmed by the festive season and over a third (39%) of UK consumers feeling the weight of Christmas expectations and family obligations (see Key Stats for all), astute brands from furniture to FMCG are taking an empathetic stance with campaigns acknowledging seasonal pressures and encouraging self-care.  

With more than half of US shoppers stressed and overwhelmed by the festive season and over a third (39%) of UK consumers feeling the weight of Christmas expectations and family obligations (see Key Stats for all), astute brands from furniture to FMCG are taking an empathetic stance with campaigns acknowledging seasonal pressures and encouraging self-care.  

Summary

Taking the Pressure Off: Ads Celebrating Perfectly Imperfect Realities

With more than half of US shoppers stressed and overwhelmed by the festive season and over a third (39%) of UK consumers feeling the weight of Christmas expectations and family obligations (see Key Stats for all), astute brands from furniture to FMCG are taking an empathetic stance with campaigns acknowledging seasonal pressures and encouraging self-care.  

Seasonal ‘Social Scaffolding’: Combatting Loneliness

Globally, 33% of adults experience loneliness, and one million people in the UK will eat alone this Christmas Day (see Key Stats). To help, civic-minded brands are urging consumers to build “social scaffolding” (see more in our Cohesive Communities report), with friends, at work, or in their community.

Dismantling Seasonal Tropes with Strong Female Role Models

With 25% of American children in single-parent homes (NYT, 2023), and most single mothers (see Key Stats) and American women living longer than men (Medical News Today, 2023), there’s no one-size-fits-all festive family unit. Older female role models should be embraced, at Christmas and beyond. Two major brands are already doing so this holiday season.

Addressing a Christmas Cost-of-Living Crisis

The cost of living is a mainstream concern, with 79% of Americans seeking cheaper festive purchases or planning not to buy gifts at all this year (McKinsey, 2023). Supporting this value-for-money quest, brands are offering budget-stretching solutions (including fun festive hacks) but also championing wider social causes.

Seasonal Sustainability: Covetable, but Make It Green

Globally, 40% of shoppers are willing to pay extra for eco-conscious products, and 43% are more likely to buy from brands with sustainability practices, such as carbon-neutral shipping or low-waste initiatives (see Key Stats). Conscious brands are responding with waste reduction and repair services foregrounded in festive messaging, helping to assuage gifting guilt.

Pampering to Pet Parents Whose Dogs Rule Yule

Eighty per cent of American pet owners consider their pets a family member when it comes to gift buying, and British dog owners are predicted to spend up to £3bn ($3.8bn) on Christmas treats (see Key Stats). Savvy brands are capitalising with photo opportunities with Father Christmas and gift guides for four-legged friends (and their parents).

Virtual Engagement: Brandiverses, AR & AI Merrymaking

Elevating online shopping via immersion and interactivity using tools such as 3D product visualisation can add 40% to an average order value (Concetto Labs, 2022). Seeking that uplift, shrewd retailers are conjuring up magical brandiverses, deploying augmented reality (AR) lenses and offering artificial intelligence (AI)-personalised greeting cards to enhance their holiday shopping experiences.

Holiday 2023: Brand Engagement Trends Stress-Busters, Frugal Cool and AI Merry-Making

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