Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Marketing Tools – The Advent Calendar

An advent calendar in itself is no new concept, but for many brands it is increasingly becoming a unique marketing opportunity to connect with consumers during the festive season. Without misplacing the religious value of an advent calendar, for many people it has come to represent a countdown to Christmas, and anticipation for the impending holiday season.

Although we’re perhaps quite familiar with the chocolate versions of the advent calendar (the highlight of my childhood memories), I’ve been genuinely surprised this year to see many brands producing versions that are more relevant to the product or service that they provide. BBC Sport, for example, has put together an advent calendar featuring daily sports highlights in video form. Other brands like Topshop & Topman have put together in-store versions of an advent calendar (offering daily deals to shoppers), while online retailers have created digital calendars for the same purpose. One of my favourite examples of this is the annual digital calendar put together by British retailer Whistles, offering daily prizes and gifts for followers of the brand. Their 2012 digital advent calendar, as shown below, is especially noteworthy as it ticks all the right boxes from a design perspective, and is without a doubt a great example of how a memorable branded experience can be created through an online platform.

Whistles Advent Calendar (Source: Prodo)

Putting aside the general concept of the advent calendar, I wanted to particularly highlight the growing consumer appetite for beauty-based advent calendars. This is a market that is without doubt blowing up, and given the content of these advent calendars, it makes great sense as to why consumers are so willing to purchase them.

Selfridges Beauty Advent Calendar (Source: Cosmopolitan UK)

Given that it is often quite hard to buy beauty items as gifts for friends and family (unless they tell exactly you what scent/skin type/colour is needed), advent calendars provide the perfect opportunity for them to try different products in fuss-free sample sizes. If they later decide that they really like one of the samples, they can later go and purchase the full size in store. You can clearly see how beauty brands benefit from this product model as it doubles up as a promotional opportunity, and serves as a great way to reach new customers (who have perhaps been gifted the advent calendar, or purchased it themselves to try out the brand).

Hopefully after reading this you’ll have your eyes open to other great examples of Christmas marketing tools that are currently floating around, however the key take away from this topic is that there is a unique opportunity for brands to engage with consumers through both old and new mediums. As long as you’re providing something of genuine use (whether it’s a product or service), there is a high likelihood of consumers wanting to engage with your brand, and continue doing so well beyond the festive season.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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