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VCCP Collaborative ‘Winning In The Rebound II’ Report Unveils ‘Last Hurrah’ of Christmas

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The 2021 Christmas advertising window for brands opened earlier than ever as UK consumers focused on creating a special family Christmas to compensate for last year’s lockdown misery

VCCP Collaborative ‘Winning In The Rebound II’ Report Unveils ‘Last Hurrah’ of Christmas

Following a rollercoaster 18 months and with only 10 days to go until Christmas, the UK marketing industry is investing heavily in advertising spend after last year’s Christmas spirits were dampened by the pandemic. Consumers, on the other hand, want a special Christmas and are willing to spend but focus on family time, home décor and great food.

In VCCP’s latest report from their thought leadership program, The Collaborative, ‘Winning In The Rebound II’ reveals significant psychological shifts in the mood of the nation as Brits enjoyed a summer of staycations, spending and socialising, only to be brought down to the ground with a bump as autumn delivered fuel shortages, energy price increases, supply chain issues, price rises and the Omicron variant. A general air of caution looms over 2022, but the report reveals that the UK will embrace Christmas in the best way possible. 

In a bid to benefit from this Christmas spirit, UK advertisers have embraced a return to big-budget broadcast spending with a target to spend almost £1bn more marketing their products this festive season than last year, marking the return of the annual big-budget Christmas marketing battle. Christmas advertising was launched weeks earlier than usual in November and ITV recently reported a competitive 30% inflation on Christmas TV spend this year - this is also shaped by the fact that viewing audiences are down, meaning more advertisers are chasing fewer audiences. VCCP‘s Collaborative report, 'Winning In The Rebound II' predicts that this increased spend will continue as we draw closer to Christmas and investment shifts to tactical spend on radio, in print and search.

The ‘Winning in the Rebound II’ report also reveals early indications that ‘Revenge Spenders’ and ‘Rewarders’ segments have increased in size over the summer and will remain as UK consumers look to ‘cheer themselves up’ this Christmas with family orientated celebrations and a rise in sustainable gifting. 

The record breaking £1 billion more in Q4 spend this year is a stark reminder that marketers are still fighting to make up for the pandemic slump. This year Christmas spending by both consumers and brands started much earlier - with shoppers eager to embrace the festive season, and advertisers eager to meet growing consumer demand for an early Christmas retail hit. The unprecedented spending has also been influenced by brands investing to secure crucial sales during Black Friday/Cyber Monday and then again in December to take advantage of last minute Christmas spending. 

However, as we look forward to 2022, the report indicates that Brits are likely to adopt ‘ration-like’ attitudes similar to the 1950’s to help them navigate a tricky 2022. This drop in positivity from the heights of summer consumer confidence, will influence many consumers as they pay closer attention to purse strings, delay big ticket investments, and even regret previous ‘pandemic purchases’ too. Consumers are likely to see caution around car buying, technology and even eating out. Holidays have remained a priority on consumers' “to do” list but this may be hampered by future lockdowns or travel restrictions.

Five key findings from the VCCP Collaborative II report reveal: 

  1. Positivity dwindled after ‘summer of rebound’: report indicates consumers are paying closer attention to their finances signalling a winter of rationing for some. Multiple lockdowns have brought into focus the importance of family and friends
  2. ‘Last hurrah’ mentality influences spending increase, with a shift towards sustainable gifting: consumers are opting for bigger, more family orientated Christmas’ ahead of 2022 uncertainty. Attitudes to revenge spending and rewarding have increased with consumers eager to cheer themselves up
  3. As demonstrated by Christmas advertising hitting earlier than ever before, consumers are buying earlier: this is due to the nervousness around threats of lockdown, tax rises, Brexit, fuel shortages etc, with consumers eager to enjoy a proper Christmas compared to last year 
  4. Two advertising windows for Christmas: first window to support those spending early, and a second window closer to Christmas to support last minute shoppers 
  5. Consumer caution will continue into 2022: rising prices and uncertainty surrounding the future is likely to delay purchases of ‘big ticket items.’ Pandemic purchases are now a regret for many 

Lee Baring, head of investment at VCCP Media says: ‘The market is seeing huge, unpredictable inflation being driven by a perfect storm of increased revenue and declining impacts, which neither appear to be slowing. In my 20-odd years of media buying, through Dot.Com booms and busts, recessions, tsunamis and war, this is the most difficult market I can remember.’ 

Brands must continue to tread a fine line, where they are sensitive to the situation of the recovering, whilst benefiting from UK consumers eager to embrace more generous spending habits in the lead up to the ‘last hurrah’ before the UK buckles up for a tight 2022.

Marie Oldham, executive chair of VCCP Media added: "As we head towards a second pandemic Christmas and into 2022, this analysis has reinforced for us the importance of understanding the psychological motivations behind both short and long term consumer behaviours." 

The first edition of The Collaborative ‘Winning In The Rebound’ report identified five different consumer attitudes to the pandemic and how they influenced consumer spending. The findings initially reported a huge sense of pessimism for the future across rationers, revenge spenders, resetters, recoverers and rewarders. However, 2021 also brought the ‘Summer of Rebound,’ with pent up demand driving a wave of positive behaviours, signalling a collective moment of hope for UK consumers and brands alike.

To download the report, please visit here.

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VCCP, Wed, 15 Dec 2021 13:37:13 GMT