Neuromarketing: Seven reasons why Christmas advertising works

The Christmas season is not only a time of contemplation and togetherness, but also a highlight for marketers and advertisers worldwide. But what makes Christmas advertising so special and why do our brains react so strongly to it? Zutt & Partner sheds light on seven key factors that explain the effectiveness of Christmas advertising from the perspective of neuromarketing.

1. increased volume of emotions

Christmas has always been a time for "coming home" and getting together with loved ones. During the festive season, people experience their "private emotional number one", so to speak, which is associated with many deep emotions.

Emotional storytelling or the presentation of heart-warming scenes in advertisements taps into precisely these deep-rooted emotional needs for closeness and belonging - and the commercials fit naturally into the festive mood thanks to strong storytelling "like another Christmas story". This strategy is particularly effective as it allows brands to tap into the private emotional No. 1. And thus not only promote short-term sales, but also build long-term customer relationships.

700 pounds and a friendly dog: Charlie's Bar went viral this year with a homemade Christmas ad because the video brings people together.

2. sensory stimuli activation

The typical Christmas aesthetic has hardly changed for many decades: Warm glowing lights, Christmas trees, snow - but also clearly defined scents, tastes and sounds are closely associated with Christmas. Over time, a very strong emotional thread has been spun around Christmas that encompasses all the senses. And the more senses are stimulated in the brain at the same time, the more and stronger emotions are triggered - keyword "multisensual enhancement".

The practical thing is that even in media designed for one or two senses, additional senses can be activated via learned sensory bridges. For example, if you show freshly baked cinnamon stars, viewers automatically smell them.

In the example video, Aldi 2023 focuses on Christmas sensory experiences.

3. social pressure to conform

Christmas is a time of giving and generosity. Advertising that highlights gift ideas or special offers capitalizes on the social pressure and expectation to give gifts to others at this time. This can encourage purchases, especially when products are positioned as ideal gifts.

The whole thing is reinforced by the psychological principle of reciprocity: people always want to create a balance in social relationships - if you receive something as a gift, you want to give something at least as great in return.

At Coop, this advertising message in 2020 focused on generosity and reciprocity.

4. principle of scarcity

With claims such as "Offer only until Christmas!", Christmas advertising often emphasizes the limited time available or the uniqueness of seasonal products. This strategy creates a sense of urgency and encourages quick purchasing decisions. In addition, the principle of scarcity plays a crucial role - if customers believe that a product is only available for a limited time or only in a limited quantity, their willingness to purchase it increases to avoid a missed opportunity.

In addition, such limited offers create a psychological incentive: The product or service appears more exclusive and therefore more valuable and attractive - and is all the more suitable as a gift.

Principle of scarcity: A Christmas offer from Ex Libris "with an expiration date" until December 4, 2023.

5. increasing relevance through personalization

During the holiday season, customers are looking for special gifts for friends and family. Data-driven marketing enables retailers to understand the exact preferences and interests of their customers. This allows them to create tailored advertising messages that offer relevant product suggestions for specific gift recipients.

The greater the relevance for the recipient, the greater the chance of sales.Personalized products also enjoy great success during the Christmas season: by adding the name of the recipient, the product suddenly fits the person even better - and gives the giver another strong reason to buy.

Lindt's sweet surprises from 2023 look as if they were made for the person receiving the gift.

6. awakening childhood memories

Christmas is often closely linked to childhood memories. Many people remember the magic and excitement they felt as children during the Christmas season. Advertising that appeals to such nostalgic feelings can evoke a strong emotional response. By reliving these positive emotions, customers are more likely to be motivated to buy products associated with these happy memories. Nostalgia can be a powerful tool to build trust and an emotional connection to the brand.

Zutt & Partner investigated whether there is a perfect Christmas fairytale character in 2021 as part of an emotion study ( reported).

The magic of a wish come true: Migros and Finn are rekindling childhood memories in 2023.

7. increased spending capacity

At Christmas time, many people are more willing to spend money. Of course, this is partly due to the cultural tradition of gift-giving and the festive nature of the season - in addition, many people build up a "mental account" for Christmas well in advance and expect to spend more. In addition, towards the end of the year, the focus is also more on "treating yourself". In addition to something special for their loved ones, many people also want to reward themselves properly for the year's exertions.

Retailers take advantage of this willingness by offering special offers, discounts and exclusive products. Advertising that emphasizes the value of the product for the customer or the emotional value of a gift can tap into this willingness to spend particularly well.

In 2021, Samsung is staging the emotional value of its smartphone as a love story with a happy ending.

Conclusion: Christmas advertising works

The seven neuro-effects explained clearly show how profoundly Christmas advertising can influence decision-making processes and why it is so effective. They offer a unique opportunity not only to achieve short-term increases in sales, but also to build and strengthen long-term customer relationships.

The Management consultancy Zutt & Partner specializes in neuromarketing.

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