Make your retail environments work this Christmas

We explore how to build brand loyalty and increase sales through in-store initiatives, being sensitive to your consumers mindset and responding to their needs.

As a brand and retailer, you may have already planned your Christmas campaigns, window displays and activations. Or, after a lost summer you could be back at your desk handling a backlog of issues. But it’s not too late to maximise the opportunities that the Christmas period presents. By understanding your consumers and delivering what they need, you can build consumer loyalty, increase sales, basket size and conversion, as well as give back to the community. The starting point is to understand your consumers frame of mind.


Consumers frame of mind

It’s going to be a very different Christmas for most people this year. In the run up to Christmas the mood amongst shoppers will be mixed. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, individual experiences and mindsets will vary considerably depending upon personal circumstances. Some will embrace the festive period and start preparing early, keen to make Christmas better than ever. Others will hold back, feeling uncertain about what lies ahead and wait until the last minute to make preparations.

For many, Christmas was the light at the end of the tunnel in the early weeks of the pandemic – a time when people were expecting and looking forward to relative normality. But following the disappointment of missed events and holidays, pressures created by confinement at home, anxiety about recession and with further job cuts looming, the mindset of many consumers has changed. Fuelled by an anticipated ‘second wave’, a rollercoaster of government guidelines, uncertainty about seeing family and friends and many other unknowns, some consumers are wondering how it’s possible to plan for Christmas.

In contrast, others are shopping earlier than ever before and want to be prepared in advance for Christmas. After not going on holiday or spending money on going out, some consumers will have more disposable income and want to treat children, grandchildren and other family members – compensating for a difficult year. For other consumers it will be a ‘light Christmas’, trying to make a tight budget go as far as possible.


Some will have recently moved house, as part of the surge in the residential property market experienced in some countries. Or they may have embarked on home improvements or created a home office, using money not spent on commuting, foreign holidays or entertainment. It is still to be seen whether there will be a rush to buy home fixtures, fittings and furnishings ‘in time for Christmas’. Whether it’s a new kitchen or a new sofa, consumers will be wondering if anyone will be visiting their homes to see them.

Alternatively, for other consumers material possessions will hold less importance and will place greater focus on helping others and contributing to their communities this Christmas. They will prefer to seek out local, handmade or sustainable gifts, based on a renewed appreciation of the environment.

Every consumer will have their own thoughts and perspective about Christmas this year, and every brand and retailer will need to take a different approach based on their consumers, sector, product and service offer. There are many elements to consider, and spending is likely to occur in different areas compared to previous years. But after a difficult year, most people will want to enjoy this Christmas and feel as ‘normal’ as possible by treating both themselves and their loved ones.

Here are just some of the things that you can do NOW in the lead-up to Christmas to make sure you connect with your consumers in the most appropriate and relevant way.


Show you care

Since the pandemic, many brands and retailers have (and are continuing) to support communities, charities and health services – now is the time to tell your consumers what you’re doing and where relevant invite them to join the cause. If you’re not supporting good causes, now is the time to start!

Capture the ‘spirit of giving’ through collaborations with charities in store, allocate space for activations and encourage your consumers to donate or volunteer. Ensure collaborations are relevant to your brand values, ethos and product offer.

Consider replacing traditional Christmas decorations with messaging that captures what’s important to your consumers this year. Use sustainable materials, be creative and project your message while considering the environment.

Explore how you can help your consumers communities, host virtual events, facilitate initiatives or provide surprise gifts for those who are lonely or in need.

Strike the right tone

Be positive, upbeat and help to raise the spirits of your consumers, but ensure communications, campaigns and activations are implemented sensitively and in the right tone. It’s OK to celebrate Christmas, but recognise the impact of the pandemic on your consumers mindset.

Now is the time for innovation, and an opportunity to capture the essence of Christmas in non-traditional ways. Focus on your consumers and how they would like you to reach out to them – will they appreciate tips of how to get the best value out of their Christmas budget, or do they want to be shown how to make their day extra special this year.


Inspire and delight

Many people have developed new interests and hobbies throughout the pandemic, leading to new gift ideas for their friends and family. Inspire your consumers by presenting gifts in innovative and imaginative ways. The increased popularity of cooking, crafting, home-fitness and numerous other activities will inspire presents. Spending more time at home will also make items such as Christmas jumpers, leisurewear, pyjamas, slippers and accessories such as festive socks (and face masks) more popular than ever as gift choices. Not forgetting a renewed love of pets and animals as people have developed a greater appreciation of wildlife.

Christmas is also a time when everyone likes to buy luxury food and drink items. After a difficult year, and with many Christmas parties and celebration dinners cancelled, it’s likely consumers will embrace this tradition with renewed vigour – not only as gifts but to treat themselves and their families.

The solution will be different for every brand and retailer, but review your product presentation and inspire gift ideas based on your consumers mindset. Build messaging around your product ranges to trigger your consumers imagination. Many families will be relying on virtual contact this Christmas – suggest a new tablet to improve family video calls, the perfect top for ‘above the waist fashion’ or home accessories to create the best backdrops. With face masks now mandatory in many public areas, demonstrate how consumers can compensate by making a statement with attention-grabbing accessories. Or if you’re a health and beauty brand, provide tips on how to create powerful eyes through make-up tutorials or to make the most of your skin.

With health and wellbeing a trend that has only escalated during the pandemic, where relevant promote products with this angle. Illustrate the benefits of beauty and self-care products, suggest new fitness or outdoor wear as motivators to keep up or start new exercise regimes and outdoor activities. Demonstrate how consumers can encourage friends and family to feel better about themselves.

Encourage the enjoyment of Christmas shopping by considering new initiatives such as a dedicated ‘gift advice’ service in store. As an appointment only or a walk-up feature, suggest gift ideas based on key questions relevant to your product offer. Include socially distanced seating for a well-earned rest and add to the experience by offering a festive drink or sweet treat.


Make it convenient

Many customers will want to reduce the number of individual visits they make to shops this year and may not want to linger, but with a greater level of destination shopping this is likely to result in greater conversion and increased basket size. Therefore, make shopping easy for customers. Help them to find products they want and offer product bundles, gift boxes and hampers with your own unique twist. Hampers don’t have to be food and drink – encourage customers to make their own hampers from your products or create hampers for them.

With more online transactions likely to take place this year than ever before, stand out from competitors and make click & collect an extra-special, festive experience. Consider offering a free gift-wrapping service or reassuring customers they’ve made the right choice by providing a comfortable place where customers can review gifts and exchange if not quite right.

In a world where friends and family will be able to see less of each other at Christmas, consider offering a free gift delivery with personalised messages.


A little something from Me (to Me)

Don’t forget that Christmas is also a time when people are looking to lift their own spirits through self-treats. Help customers find that special gift for themselves, whether it’s a special top, a piece of jewellery, new shoes or replacement of tired tech. Be creative and help consumers visualise how your products can be enjoyed as self-treats – demonstrate how a necklace will impress at virtual Christmas parties, new headphones will improve connecting with friends and family and how a top can be dressed down with jeans and slippers and dressed up for a Christmas dinner.

It’s not all about price

Customers will be as price sensitive as ever this year and will be looking for deals throughout the festive period, as well as during special events such as Black Friday. But demonstrating the authenticity of your brand and product offer, and providing meaningful information is important as price to many consumers. Consider how you can stand out from the crowd with your own campaigns and events. Talk about the added value that your brand offers, your point of difference and initiatives that you’re involved in. Highlight your commitment to sustainability and the environment both on a business and product level.


It’s not too late to draw upon the opportunities available to you this Christmas. You can build brand loyalty, increase sales, basket size and conversion, as well as giving back to the community. But you need to act NOW and we can help you.

We can support you with the following:

  • Understanding your consumers needs and desires
  • Identifying unique opportunities available to you
  • Developing a strategic plan
  • Creating campaigns that connect with your consumers
  • Designing appropriate in store display fixtures
  • Creating window displays
  • Implementing and rolling out solutions
  • Bringing ‘joy’ into your retail environment! 

We want to help you have a great Christmas. Get in touch with Jenny Hillier: 



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Jenny Hillier

30th September 2020