Merry Christmas!! A bit shocked at the timing of this post? Well now you know how I felt when I walked into the Cresta Shopping Centre Checkers and was greeted with a hearty, “Merry Christmas!”, as I went through the doors and was further confronted by reindeer, fake snow and other festive wonders!! This post is a bit of a departure from what I usually write about, but the more I think over the experience the more I think that this is a tremendous brand and marketing issue which has been brewing for a very long time!
So here are my thoughts. The entire notion from the retailers point of view is presumably as follows: As retailers, we make a bucket load of money over the Christmas season! Therefore to increase our profits we should make the season last as long as possible. People will be able to spend more money over a longer period of time. Since we cannot move Christmas Day (as such), and people won’t fall for the Christmas trick in January, so let’s start the season as early as possible! Longer season = more profit!
This all sounds wonderful from the retailers point of view. And for a really long time, this rationale has been working a charm. Christmas has come earlier and earlier each year and we have collectively been shopping more and more — pushing retailers profits ever higher!
Personally, I’m over it! The Christmas Spirit has been diluted to nothing more than another commercial holiday. It has become no more special than Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, I am sure that you can – and do – agree that Christmas is a very different holiday. It has meaning and value. It is not a shallow commercial. It is not supposed to be an excuse to exploit the consumer. Christmas is supposed to be about sharing, caring, family, values, and reflecting on what is really important in life!
As the year flies by at the speed of light, we don’t need Christmas arriving 2 month’s early as it is currently doing! This throws into sharp perspective the branding and marketing issue around where the retailers have thrown Christmas.
As Christmas lasts for a quarter of the year now, consumers are getting tired of the message too quickly. We are beginning to switch off to the Christmas messaging before we are ready to physically commit and open up our wallets. This flooding of the Christmas message is doing exactly the opposite of what the retailers want. And because you can’t exactly change the Christmas message, they resort to ramming it down our throats as hard and as often as possible!
Personally I would suggest that all major shopping malls and major brands collectively agree that Christmas branding and messaging is banned from appearing before November 25th. That still gives us all a month of hearing “jingle bells” on full volume in every shop all day long. But more importantly it allows the retailers to focus their message and regain some semblance of decency as they respect the honest to goodness tradition of what should be – at least for Christians – one of the most sacred holidays of the year!
In short this will ensure that we don’t tired of the Christmas message too quickly and that we get back to remembering what the holiday is all about!
I would love to hear your thoughts about what is wrong and what is right about the exploitation of holidays for tremendous commercial opportunity.