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The Grinch Pinch – Christmas in the age of austerity

Posted by: Harte Hanks | Date added: Mon 02 Dec 2013

The stage is set then for Christmas 2013. Will anyone be taking a modest Waitrose-esque approach this year? Or will everyone jump on the opportunity to celebrate this newfound economic optimism?

Christmas. Arguably the most indulgent time of the year. For many of us, December passes by in a bloated festive haze of food, drink, presents and mince pies as we doggedly convert pounds (£s) into pounds (lbs). Even during these austere times, the temptation to over-indulge is just too much. According to a Think Money Survey last Christmas, 14% of Brits said they would spend what they saw fit, even if it ended up costing more than they could afford!

And of course, for us marketers, it’s one of the most indulgent times of the year as well. The festive fight for Christmas consumers’ attention has produced some of the most lavish and memorable advertising campaigns in recent history. From Coca-Cola’s iconic Holidays are Coming to Cartier’s stunning Winter Tale and John Lewis’ heart-rending The Long Wait and Journey. The anticipation around the big-hitters’ winter campaigns is up there with their Super Bowl spots.

But, in this recent period of austerity, we have seen the need for marketers to be more austere themselves. Both with their budgets and their messaging. Last year, in The Bleak Mid Winter of 2012, the big four retailers (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons) all reined in their Christmas marketing spend, while Waitrose (in a somewhat dubious fashion) went for an overtly modest approach sympathetic to the mood of the nation. Very demure, and very sensitive to the possibility of alienating any families who may be tightening their belts.

While you would be hard pushed to argue the age of austerity is truly over, this year the UK economy has shown some positive signs of recovery. The ONS even reported confidence among consumers rose to a six-year high in September. The stage is set then for Christmas 2013. Will anyone be taking a modest Waitrose-esque approach this year? Or will everyone jump on the opportunity to celebrate this newfound economic optimism?  

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Harte Hanks

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