UK agencies name ‘branded content’ the number one marketing technique for retailers this Christmas

Can high street retailers fight back against online sales this Christmas?

A survey carried out by the Recommended Agencies Register (RAR) has revealed that UK agencies believe ‘branded content’ should be the top marketing priority of retail brands targeting Christmas shoppers this year.

The sample, drawn from RAR’s members, was asked the question: ‘From a marketing perspective, if there is one thing a retailer should do this Christmas, what would it be?’

42.9% of respondents named branded content as the preferred technique, making it by far the most popular answer, with PPC polling 28.6%, influencer campaigns 19% and TV advertising at 9.5%.

On the importance of targeted, personalised, location-specific content, Ed Hill at Space and Time Media said: “Engaging with consumers in their own town, whether through on or offline means, can drastically increase their awareness of a given retailer and allows the client a precise, granular control over the message that is delivered, when and to whom.”

Luca Senatore of Genie Goals added: “The most effective strategies for Christmas start in September. Invest heavily in brand awareness (through display, and content on video and social) to build users lists that inform customers profiles to target in December with PPC and email.”

The respondents were unanimous, however, in their belief that the trend towards online spending will continue this year, rather than swing back in favour of the high street. Competitive pricing, convenience and a hassle free shopping experience were commonly cited drivers of this ongoing trend.

Stephanie Earle of Fat Media said: “Shopping online allows far easier price comparison - consumers continue to be extremely price-oriented, especially at this busy time of year when expenses are higher than usual. Online shopping provides an easy way to purchase for busy customers. They can do it in evenings once stores have closed, or during their lunch break at work, all while avoiding busy high streets and additional parking charges.”

Liam Loughney of Bidmark, though, held out some hope for the high street in regards to luxury purchases. He said: “Over the last few years mobile apps, and, more recently, home technology like Amazon Alexa have made it easier and easier for customers to purchase online. I think for smaller stocking fillers online is the cheapest and easiest. However, for larger items and more expensive gifts I think the high street experience still wins.”

Likewise, Rebecca Peel of Elmwood argued that retailers can still capture Christmas trade on the high street by emphasising the social aspect of the shopping experience, saying: “It's a mistake to view online and high street as different things - consumers don't. Everyone knows how convenient online is but it's not the full story. Consumers want to shop between channels as their need suits, and we're fundamentally social animals - a trip to town to meet up for shopping and maybe a glass of wine? Now we're getting festive.

“The season isn't just about gifts, it's about getting together. If you look at the markets when digital and mobile in particular are the most prevalent (Asia) you see that the traditional retailers are using their space as their USP to best effect with photo opportunities and events to deliver an experience that online find difficult to match.”

To search for an expert retail agency, visit the Recommended Agencies Register.

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Michael Feeley

Michael Feeley is The Drum Network's consultant journalist, advising and assisting member agencies on their editorial submissions and contributions to The Drum.

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