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By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

November 30, 2011 | 3 min read

Qualitative research to be published next week by Engage Research will reveal that brands which convey a sense of hope and tradition in their Christmas adverts are being perceived best by consumers.

The research by the London-based customer insight agency found that in response to the prevailing sense of economic gloom, people are looking forward to spending time with the people who mean more to them rather than ‘random token’ gifts.

Andy Barker, Engage Research’s qualitative director, said: “Christmas is obviously about enjoyment and escape, and a certain degree of excess is traditional but, in keeping with the subdued times, our respondents have said that a sense of modesty and restraint is the order of the season.

“This Christmas will be about reconnecting, being playful rather than over-indulging, and a more careful and thoughtful, rather than excessive, consumption of products, food and drink. This will be the Christmas of only moderate excess.”

It was discovered that the John Lewis advert “tapped…into our desire for a return to a traditional sense of giving” while the Coca-Cola ‘holidays are coming’ advert was seen as a signifier of Christmas.

Barker added: “In the face of what feels like unrelenting economic gloom, unrest and uncertainty affecting many levels of society, respondents have been switched on by advertising that has captured their mood, hopes and fears.

“There is a real hunger for hope. As well as being a lovely seasonal story, the John Lewis advertisement particularly resonates with people’s need for stories of hope; hope that values of giving are alive and well in a world which has been so much about receiving or taking. Even the more ambiguously received M&S advert captures a hope of a future where “dreams come true”.”

He concluded: “The messages from our respondents are quite clear.

“Articulate hope and a positive long term vision as consumers are looking for inspirational light at the end of the tunnel; reflect the way that consumers have, in some ways, temporarily lost faith in materialism and focus on values rather than things; focus on the local, facilitate family, be active in communities and, at very least, continue to overtly support the British economy with products created and built locally.

“Brands should continue to tap into rituals which offer familiarity, comfort and trust for consumers and create promotions which reward planning and effort, as well as “hard to ignore” deals.”

John Lewis Coca-Cola Research

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