Trick or Treat: It’s Christmas

Love it or hate it, the holiday season now begins before Halloween. 

Personally, I’m not a fan of that. But I can see how some highly efficient multitaskers would enjoy buying Christmas or Hanukah decorations during their Halloween shopping sprees—and how retail marketers are happy to enable them to do just that. As for me, I don’t really want to think about Christmas until the weekend after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hysteria have died down.

Marketers in such areas as retail and travel, however, are thinking about the coming holiday season starting about a week after they catch their breath from the previous one—sometime in mid-January. Sure, they’re also thinking about seasonal promotions like back-to-school and the many other holidays sprinkled throughout the year. But the winter holiday selling season, well, that’s their jam. 

It’s interesting to watch consumers’ reactions in-store and online as Christmas unfolds in mid- to late October. Social posts of those excited or appalled by holiday decorations appearing in retails stores begin to crop up. Countdown calendars warn shoppers that they have less time to prepare than they think. Shoppers ooh and aah or cringe at the holiday decorations dotting a few early-bird retailers. I even momentarily got caught up in the early cheer when I saw a six-foot lighted Bumble Monster (from the Rudolph movie) smiling from a top shelf at Home Depot. Oh, yeah, it’s on my list—but not a day before December 1.

And then there’s the direct marketing. I received my first two mailers and emails this week.

Hallmark, not surprisingly, sent a colorful catalog
invitation to its Holiday Open House weekend,
replete with coupons, special offers, and gift ideas,
as well as a reminder of its upcoming Hallmark
Channel holiday movie special. 

Godiva’s direct mail piece was subtler, with the simple missive, “We have a gift for making holidays sweet,” gracing the front of the mailing envelope. Inside is a personalized letter from Godiva VP Retail North America Scott Sincerbeaux offering to help me—a previous purchaser and mailer of Godiva gifts—be proactive with my holiday gift shopping by providing an Early Order Discount. A holiday gift catalog accompanied the letter. Both the letter and the catalog include a consistent—and wise—message: The holidays are here before you know it, so start preparing now.

On the digital side, the first two holiday emails I received were from Penn State Alumni Association and Best Buy. 

Penn State Alumni Association? Really? Yes, and (oddly) selling furniture. The subject line, “Unique Holiday Gift Ideas from the Penn State Elms Collection—Order by Nov. 4,” is long but to the point. And once you open the email and see that the Elms Collection is furniture, you understand the urgency of the order date. Not that I’d buy furniture as a holiday gift, but that certainly does make “unique” in the subject line accurate.

The other emailer was Best Buy, whose subject line, “Need amazing holiday gifts?” is bound to get an enthusiastic (if silent), “Yes!” from its recipients. I mean, who doesn’t want to give an amazing holiday gift? Inside is a catchy photo of Best Buy blue gift bags under a Christmas tree with the message “Amazing gifts for everyone one your list,” followed by a series of bold copy blocks and photos citing gift ideas for different types of recipients. 

The simple, engaging layout of the Best Buy holiday email makes it easier to find what you might be looking for as gifts for your loved ones (or perhaps yourself).

Although I found this first batch of holiday promotions too early for my liking, I understand these brands’ logic and timing after reading the copy and considering the senders. (Still, I think next week would have been fine.)

So, to all of you, whether joyous or jaded about the holiday season’s encroachment on October, Happy Holidays, er, Halloween!

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