[Cross-posted from Beneath the Brand.]
Every holiday season, many companies choose to liven up their image with a mixture of timeless cheer and traditional advertising appeal: Whether it’s the instantly-recognizable red-suited Santa laughing as he partakes of some cookies and milk, or the image of a family together in their living room, seated next to the hearth and a Christmas tree, consumers recognize immediately what the message is. And the truth is, studies show that people still look forward to the comfortable, predictable advertising messages that we see in end-of-the-year holiday campaigns. We feel a rekindling of our youth, and in the joy of giving and receiving gifts. Brands entice us to purchase products so that we can participate in the tradition of exchanging holiday gifts, and they tell us that we’ll feel glad that we did so — lest we be Scrooges.
But the holidays do come on strong, even if we know what to expect, and they can be exhausting, both financially and emotionally. So what about when it’s all over? What does the New Year mean for consumers?
Well, to state the obvious, the New Year brings us new beginnings: A fresh start, promises to change for the better, and a virtual clean slate where we can visualize our goals and plan our route for achieving them. It represents a renewed outlook on life. Or at least, we feel like it does. In reality, we changed the way we wrote a series of four symbols, from 2-0-1-2 to 2-0-1-3. The sun came up in the morning, and then it set again as it always does (well, to be fair, I’m writing this before 12/21 — maybe the sun didn’t come up again!), and January 1 is a new day, just the same as any other day is. It’s just another day in your life.
But the idea of a new year and what it represents is appealing to many people, even if it’s only symbolic. And it’s something that brands should focus on to hit the ground running after consumers begin to suffer from holiday exhaustion. So how do brands usually appeal to consumers in the New Year?
An easy and obvious way is by catering to New Year’s resolutions, such as campaigns for healthy eating to reach your weight goals, or purchasing a financial planner to help with the goal of saving up for a vacation. When consumers feel like a product really will help them with their new goals, they’ll buy it.
Another way of doing this is a little bit bolder, but it definitely works: patting consumers on the back for making it through another holiday season. You’ve made it through another year. Why not take some time out for yourself, and recharge at a spa or ski resort? Consumers can relate to the stresses that come with the season and many will feel like indulging in some relaxing activities.
Or, tell them to get the most use out of the gifts they’ve been given. You just got a new flat-screen HDTV for Christmas. So why not buy yourself a new speaker system to create a home theater experience that the whole family will enjoy for years to come?
By utilizing the powerful idea of new beginnings in the New Year, companies convince us that their products are the key to realizing our New Year’s goals, as well as a way of experiencing happiness even after the novelty of our holiday gifts has long worn off. When brands keep their image fresh and relevant year-round, they enjoy more success!