To Holiday or not to Holiday?

A hand holding a sparkler

As the holiday season approaches, many marketers are thinking about whether or not to engage their target audience with a live or hybrid branded experience. It’s a big decision given the last year and half has shown us the difficulty in planning during uncertain times.

However, there are some things we do know…

1. There is pent up demand from consumers to start experiencing life again!

Canadians made big sacrifices last year – especially during the holidays. This year they plan to make up for lost time. In IMI’s recent report, they list the top 40 things Canadians intend to do that they did not do this past year…and attending holiday get-togethers tops the list.

  • Attend A Christmas Party +30%
  • Get Together for the Holidays +30%
  • Attend A Holiday Party +29%
  • Get Together with Friends to Celebrate +25%
2. Consumer spending is anticipated to increase

With more Canadians vaccinated and the news regarding vaccine passports (combined with pent up consumer demand), many experts are anticipating 2021 holiday sales to see an increase from 2020.

3. Festivals and events are confirming their holiday celebrations

We are seeing many holiday events confirming their plans to open in December including: The Toronto Christmas Market at the distillery, Toronto Cavalcade of Lights Festival at Nathan Phillips Square, Casa Loma’s spectacular Holiday Nights Tour, Surrey Tree Lighting Festival in Vancouver, and Marché de Noël in Montreal.

So, our advice to marketers is TO HOLIDAY!

Given what we anticipate seeing this holiday season it is a missed opportunity to not connect with your target consumer with a memorable and meaningful branded experience. The trick is do it safely.

Some things to consider when bringing your branded experience to market this holiday season:

1. Have flexibility

Build your plan with flexibility in mind should you have to adjust to meet new public health guidelines. If your activation is indoors, can you easily move to outdoors? Is there a completely touchless version of your activation? Is there a digital extension of your activation should health guidelines change mid-activation? Work closely with the event organizer and your partner agency to develop contingency plans anticipating every scenario.

2. If possible – Be outdoors

We know the risk of catching Covid is lessoned outdoors, but there are more measures you can take to ensure everyone feels safe. For example – choose a launch time that minimizes crowds, keep the engagement shorter and to the point to keep people moving, look to include a digital extension of your activation for those who cannot (or wish not to) attend in person, and consider a drive through experience to keep consumers safe and warm.

3. Add a virtual at-home component

We have seen brands hit it out of the park with memorable branded experiences at home. You can still bring people together virtually with a fun and memorable brand experience when you push the creative envelope. For example – personalize/ customize the experience for the audience members, incorporate an elevated physical branded kit/ keepsake, and give the audience a way to be included in the event.

4. Keep it simple

During Covid, we’ve seen consumers going back to the basics and taking up new hobbies – cooking, gaming, gardening, puzzling, to name a few. This holiday season we are expecting to see DIY décor being a big trend. Experts are expecting to see more simple decorations this year, re-using existing and natural materials versus the extravagant decorations of the past. Is there a back-to-basics opportunity for your brand this holiday?

5. Reimagine

Very often these past 18 months we’ve seen brands choose not to engage as they are not able to recreate activations they have done in the past. Let’s reimagine how we can do things differently that can still create a memorable experience for the target consumer, and still align with your brand objectives.

If you are looking for consultation, planning and execution for your holiday branded experience we’re here to answer your questions and support in any way we can.

Happy Holidays!

Laura Rashid

Director, Client Experience


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