Seasonal & Christmas Marketing – IAB Member Q&A with Laura Wall, Head of Programmatic

With consumer confidence and the Australian economy still challenged due to COVID what changes do you expect in spending habits over the holiday season?

A recent Shopper Media’s latest research study revealed that Australians are continuing to visit their local shopping centres for essential retail and to seek community connection at a local level. The same study found that 50% of consumers do not feel worried or concerned about health and safety within their local shopping centre, with 2 in 5 Australian shoppers feeling calm and under control during their visit. With centres now well equipped with hand sanitiser, cleaning wipes, and many shop assistants wearing masks, we are confident shopper sentiment will continue to be positive in small to medium size centre environments throughout the holiday period.

Karissa Fletcher, Shopper Media’s Head of Marketing, says, “Our finding showed that 75% of consumers nationally are either visiting more often or have maintained their visitation frequency patterns throughout the months of July and August. Despite ongoing restrictions, 62% of Victorian consumers are continuing to visit their local centres to top up on essential items and 17% are visiting their local shopping malls to get out of the house. These results suggest that throughout the pandemic, shopping centres have served as a purveyor of essential retail as well as being a social sanctuary for many Australians.

“This year typical traditions such as end of year parties and holiday celebrations will look different.  We expect to see a greater focus on at-home celebrations and memorable holiday occasions recreated in the outdoors. Supermarkets, liquor stores and local grocery providers will benefit from more frequents trips to the supermarket by consumers  as they top up on essential items, replenish  store-bought alcohol supplies and look  for easy and convenient ways to entertain in smaller groups in their local areas or homes.

“A recent Christmas Shopper Study survey found that  1 in 4 (28%) of consumers have already started their Christmas shopping with a further 26% due to start this month and 44% of shoppers looking to do more research prior to purchasing gifts this year indicating a longer lead in to Christmas retail  and less last minute organisation.

· Consumer Sentiment in Centre, n=1,626 shoppers nationally between 7th to 10th August 2020

· Christmas Shopper Study, n=3747, 11th – 14th September 2020

Do you have any case studies from previous years or research with tips on how to optimise Christmas digital advertising media planning and creative?

Gaining consumer attention is a challenge year-round, but never more so than during the holiday season. The onslaught of competition for consumer’s attention during Christmas period is higher than at any other time of year. So, how can brands achieve cut through?

Ensure your message is seen – optimise platforms to maximise viewability and engagement with the right audience at the right time. In digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertisers can leverage the impact of animation. Shopper Media will shortly release findings of a significant neuroscience study examining the impact of animation in DOOH.  The study found that animated advertising is twice as effective as non-animated advertising and two and half times more likely to secure a second glance.

Connect with consumers in the right environment – advertising in shopping centres has been proven to build trust, familiarity and connect with audiences. During this period of uncertainty, consumers remain more engaged than ever with their local shopping centres: a third of Shopper Media’s network of 370+ essential retail centres has experienced a 25% increase in dwell time, with consumers seeking the comfort and familiarity of their local essential retail shopping experience.

Anticipate shifts in consumer mindsets – as we approach Christmas 2020, advertisers must anticipate new behaviours that will impact both media consumption and message receptivity. Our recent Shopper Study revealed that 2 in 5 Australian shoppers want to see more light-hearted messaging from brands as they navigate the impact of COVID.

Brands should look to help Australians celebrate the magic of Christmas despite the challenges we have faced in 2020.

Based on data from previous years when should marketers be in market with seasonal campaigns? Do you recommend any changes in flighting from normal years? How does this differ for different types of products?

Marketers traditionally roll out their festive campaigns in the 2 months leading up to Christmas. However, a recent Shopper Media study1 revealed that 1 in 2 consumers will be doing more research before buying gifts this year indicating a longer lead into Christmas 2020.  Marketers will need to adapt to the changing behaviours  to ensure their  campaigns are timed to influence the decision-making process and ensure their brand is being considered and served up to  the right consumers with the right messages.

With respect to gift giving in 2020, Shopper Media’s study indicates that 2 in 3 Australians will research and purchase gifts online (up 55% on last year). There is of course a cut-off point when delivery is no longer viable or in doubt, and buyers begin to look for convenience.  Although the pandemic has influenced consumers to look to online, we have seen that this is not the same for food and other essential grocery items. During March 2020, as the pandemic took hold, only 3% of the nation’s total supermarket spend was taking place online. 3 Local convenience stores and living locally continues to be desirable and this is reflected in visitation patterns which remain consistent across our shopping centre networks, with dwell times in centre increasing across all states except for Victoria throughout July 2020.

Last year a Shopper Media study found that 70% of shoppers still do their Christmas shopping the week prior with last minute purchases more often than not are found in local and familiar retail environments. The same study had 1 in 3 Australian shoppers stocking up on entertaining supplies in case they entertain unexpectedly.  This figure is expected to be higher in the lead in to Christmas 2020 with recent findings revealing Australians are now more mindful of having a well-stocked pantry, a hangover from the initial panic buying of the pandemic.   

Whether its last minute Christmas gifts or food & drink, convenience is key and the local shopping centre will continue to play a huge role in the upcoming Christmas season as the home of essential retail.

1. Shopper Study Christmas 2020, n=3747

2. Shopper Study Christmas 2019, n=8445

3. Roy Morgan Research ‘Leakage and larceny’ as supermarkets compete, with online grocery shopping the next big battleground, accessed 7th August 2020,

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