Creating Retail Experiences During The Christmas Period

26 Oct


As the Christmas season draws ever closer, competition among high-street retail outlets intensifies, each determined to maximize their profits over the holiday period. With footfall down by 2.2% during the 2015 holiday period, it is now more important than ever to stand out from the crowd (Cityam). Due to this, experiential activations, in retail locations, become crucial to attracting customers who would otherwise have walked on.


Retail At Christmas





This is, of course, the right idea, and Christmas has so many innate advantages over other periods. Purely on a psychological level, Christmas is a celebratory season, but also a stressful one, and consumers appreciate the respite an engaging retail activation can give from the madness of Christmas shopping. Couple this with the deeply entrenched sensory associations of Christmas, the aromas of cinnamon and gingerbread, the crackle of an open fire and warm red and gold colours framed with snow all conjure happy seasonal memories, relaxing consumers, making them more likely to engage.

From a marketing perspective, in-store activations offer an immediately obvious point of differentiation from competitors; a valuable tool when consumers do not have the time to carefully consider their options. In addition, experiences offer consumers additional value on top of their purchases; again a persuasive argument in a time associated with unusually high expenditure.

We love Christmas activations here at eventeem, so we’ve come up with 6 different experiential ideas for retail stores and some examples to illustrate how to do them right, with small to medium sized budgets in mind, to prove that experiential campaigns don’t have to break the bank!



In-store Grotto:

Very cliché, I know, but classics exist for a reason. Santa defines the “brand” of Christmas, and has been a familiar face since we were children, these positive memories associated with the “big man in red” make him a great jumping off point for an in-store installation, as they put consumers at ease, making them more likely to engage.

Santa is also a golden opportunity for brands marketing at parents, as the concept provides these consumers with an opportunity to entertain bored children, relieving stress from their shopping experience. Santa alone is the vanilla option, scale up by adding elves, a grotto and even a giant Christmas tree, covered in brand-specific gifts to distribute to consumers.

Check out this campaign by Carlsberg, where they created a 27ft Christmas tree on London’s South Bank, which dispensed free beer and glass blown “beerbles”:



The beauty of this campaign is that it can be scaled to fit the environment for which it is required.



Sampling Event:




During the holiday season, consumers are out with an the intention to buy, Sales increased by an average 2.3% in 2015 compared to the previous year (RetailResearch). This is a ripe opportunity for brands to undertake sampling activities. Sampling is a cheap, effective method of capitalizing on high numbers of shoppers with a propensity to spend, by compelling them to engage with brands at the point of sale.

Don’t just take our word for it, according to an International Journal of Applied Research study, nearly 74% of respondents were observed to make impulse purchases of a product being sampled in-store, with the added benefit of increasing product awareness.

To give a relatable example of this, last year, Tesco ran “the biggest sampling event in UK supermarket history” with almost 300 stores holding Christmas Food Festivals and an estimated reach of 2.6 million consumers (TheGrocer). Again, this activity can be scaled up and down to fit a retailer’s needs.



Free Gift Wrapping Stall:




A simple concept, but the simple ones are always the best. Putting on a free gift-wrapping station for their purchases not only adds value to their experience, but saves them something more valuable than money, time.

The most successful innovations of recent times are geared towards saving time, think Amazon Prime & Google Express, Uber, AirBnB, Netflix all save their consumers time. By giving shoppers more time to spend with their loved ones over the holiday season, you generate more value for them than any discount could. By the way if you want to work out the actual value of your time check out this Lifehacker article.



Retail R&R Centre:




As we’ve already discussed, Christmas shopping is stressful! Give your consumers a well-deserved relax with a retail chill-out centre. Obviously yours doesn’t have to be as Hi-tech as SmoothFM’s, keep it traditional: armchairs, a roaring “log fire”, refreshments: mince pies, tea and biscuits.

Again, this is scalable, small stores obviously can’t accommodate a whole sitting room, but if you have the space you can create a peaceful area where consumers can rest, increasing the time spent in your store. Have dedicated staff working the area, chatting with customers, deepening their experience and asking them questions about their own in-store experience, giving you that all important feedback which can be used to improve future consumers’ experiences in your store.



VR Experience:


First of all, check out this 360 degree VR experience created by TGI Friday’s last year, which transported diners to a Lapland dog-sled ride from their seats using 360 degree Oculus VR technology:



Whilst this seems like a complicated set up, all you really need is the space, there are many companies out there who will create a virtual reality experience for you in no time at all, all you have to do is rent the equipment. Again, when it comes to scale, you just need more equipment, because of the isolated nature of the experience, scale has no real impact on quality.



In-store Carol Concert (Modernized):


Whilst a traditional carol concert might seem a bit passé, hiring a group to perform “contemporary carols”  is an innovative idea which makes your store stand out from the rest. Not only is it outside of the box, the only logistical organization involved is telling the staff where your shop is, plus it scales just as easily as the other ideas.

Couple this with some guerrilla flyering in the weeks leading up to the event and you have the makings of an effective experiential campaign at little or no cost. Imagine surprising your customers with a performance like this:

Hopefully these campaign ideas have convinced you that experiential marketing is the right choice to gain the edge over your retail competitors this holiday season, because after all that’s the really meaning of Christmas!


If you need support planning your experiential activities, or finding staff for Christmas events, contact us today!