“A Tale of Two Holiday Seasons”

From Emily Brown, VP Strategy Director, McCann NY

Between July and October of this year, average daily searches for inflation surged by more than 1,000 percent compared to last year (Source).  

With recessionary concerns looming for consumers and marketers alike, many are wondering if the upcoming holiday season will feel like a great return…or a great recalibration.  

The truth is, the answer depends on who you ask. 

2022 is shaping up to be a tale of two holiday seasons.  

For some consumers (especially those whose plans were negatively impacted by the Omicron surge last year), it will be a season of reclamation they’re counting down towards. Their pent-up desire to celebrate, shop and show gratitude this holiday season isn’t likely to be dulled—no matter how steep the cost.   

But others simply won’t have that privilege. For many of us, we’re heading into a season that demands resourcefulness—of doing more with less and reimagining tradition. The good news is the pandemic has prepared us well for this type of creative consumerism.  

The question we’ve been posing to many of our clients as we co-create holiday plans is this:  

What meaningful role do your consumers need (or want!) you to play for them during this unique holiday season?  

So much of the Q4 marketing conversation focuses on what companies hope to gain during this critical sales period. But identifying a meaningful role helps ensure there is also some sort of value provided to consumers.  

Here are some guiding principles:  


1.      Let your audience be your guide.  

At the risk of sounding obvious, the most certain way to understand your customer’s holiday needs is to listen to and address their concerns and aspirations. If traditional research isn’t an option, consider social listening. How are they reacting to news about inflation? Are they posting about travel plans? Complaining about gas prices? Feeling overwhelmed? Seeking out deals?  

Listening can go a long way . Is your audience optimistic about the upcoming season – or feeling the pressure? 


2.      Identify your seasonal superpowers.  

Take stock of what you offer as a brand – and how your capabilities align with the sense of reclamation and resourcefulness necessary in navigating the marketplace. When you craft your holiday campaigns, let your seasonal superpowers shine. 

For instance, consumers approaching the holiday season full-steam ahead might appreciate being rewarded by a brand that that fuels their enthusiasm.  

For those prioritizing resourcefulness this holiday season, there are clear needs around flexibility, value and inspiration. Brands that offer “buy now, pay later,” cost comparison, free-shipping or even budget-friendly tips for gifting and entertainment are well-poised to deliver consumer satisfaction.   


3.      Channel your brand purpose.  

Perhaps the driving source of inspiration for holiday ad campaigns can come from looking inward. Are you a disruptor brand that charts new paths through innovation? An entertainment brand that exists to spark joy? Maybe you’re a caregiver brand that supports and encourages?  

Whatever your purpose may be, ask yourself how you might strategically apply your strengths to the challenges brought by potential inflation and economic uncertainty.  


You might just find that your greatest strengths and insights are what you’re actually advertising – which are greater than product or service themselves.