Festive season trends for retailers

Festive season trends

Father Christmas is back! Here’s the key sentiments and festive season trends to look out for.

With fewer than 90 sleeps until we see what Santa’s left under the tree, it won’t be long before we start to hear the jingle of seasonal adverts, and the arrival of the much anticipated and increasingly competitive Emotional 30” Christmas Spot Competition. But, after a turbulent and somewhat subdued Christmas 2020, what insights might lie at the core of these Christmas advertising epics?

We got our insight team to take a closer look at what’s resonating with families and share their top tips on how retailers and brands can best tap into festive season trends…. 

1. Focus on small and sentimental rather than large and luscious 

This year it really isn’t going to be about buying 100’s of toys and games, but instead buying one or two special gifts that hold interest. This doesn’t mean spending less (or turning into the grinch) – indeed a survey carried out by PwC this summer found that 61 percent of shoppers are expecting to spend the same as last year and 24 percent are expecting to increase spending. A further 22 percent said that they wanted to buy something a bit more special. 

How might this play out in a home? Really it will be in one or two ways: Either a child being given the freedom and autonomy to pick that one extra special gift that they are super excited about and can barely contain their excitement or we’ll see a parent being given the tools to find the perfect gift for their child – something they are thrilled with and will treasure. 

2. Celebrating with intention and values – forever gifts, not throwaways

There is big focus this year on meaningful connections and how products can build on that. We are seeing an increasing number of people shopping with their moral hat on and in line with their values, whether that means considering sustainability, supporting small businesses, or shopping local.

This year we’ll see an increased focus on people buying good quality gifts that span age ranges rather than those are short term or considered fad items. The beauty of ‘fine’ toys and how it’s a lasting gift is making a resurgence as throwaway behaviour is being widely condemned, thanks to increased awareness of climate change and the impact of COVID-19 on the world. This is no bad thing – I’m sure readers, that you have a treasured keepsake or two that evoke a strong sense of nostalgia or a precious item that’s been passed down from one generation to another. Let’s create that for the next generation.   

I would add that it’s important not to pay lip service to greener initiatives – no-one wants to be accused of green washing. Instead, if possible this year introduce more sustainable practices such as a toy or gift recycling initiatives, encouraging people to bring in old toys (that are still in good condition) into the store in exchange for a discount voucher, e.g. 10 percent off a new purchase. Old items could then be shared with children less fortunate. 

3. Making the ‘best of it’

Be aware that Christmas has changed. It’s not the same consistent, joyful period that we expect every

year. It’s not always going to be filled with big parties or flurries of shoppers on the high streets, instead it’s now a moment of ‘what will happen next?’, ‘will I even get to see my family?’. 

Consumers are aware things may change at the drop of a hat, so they are actively looking at the bare bones of what makes Christmas special – be it spending time with their families, playing a board game, building a new dollhouse with their children or creating their own Christmas decoration as a new family tradition.

Christmas has become (only slightly) a less capitalistic holiday and gone back to its roots of love, togetherness and sentimentality so for brands and retailers, an increased focus needs to be on creating experiences and maximising the enjoyment it provokes. Remember – the memories made in store encourage visitors to get a keepsake, something to remember that wonderful family moment.

4. Families are looking for something more traditional 

Research from eBay recently found that half (49 percent) of people think that Christmas 2021 will feel

traditional, as they plan to do what they always do – up from 43 percent in 2020. Meanwhile a fifth (19 percent) say it will be nostalgic. After last year’s stress and disappointment, it’s evident that people are also much more excited as they anticipate a more familiar festive season – 25 percent of adults say they feel Christmas will be exciting this year, compared to just 16 percent in 2020.

All in all, people are feeling more positive about Christmas celebrations and are hopeful that they’ll be able to travel and celebrate as usual. They’re looking for familiarity and opportunities to get back to their family traditions. 

After another pretty rubbish year for many, people are more excited and optimistic about Christmas than in 2020. It’s going to be a time to really come together and make up for lost time. The focus will be on family, togetherness and making meaningful memories. 

Remember that while times change and people grow, beloved family traditions make lifelong memories that cross generations and hold us together, especially over the festive period. Tap into that sentiment and nostalgic moment by introducing quality – and where possible – sustainable items that families will treasure and pass down to future generations. I promise, they’ll thank you for it.

By Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder of family focussed strategy and creative agency, Kids Industries