Positioning your retail brand during the festive season

Christmas is coming – three words that will strike fear into the heart of any retail professional. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. The Christmas Eve rush and the Boxing Day sales. Forget the festivities, it’s all about results.


Whilst it can be heavy going for workers on the ground, it’s known as the golden quarter in retail in terms of sales and there’s a real drive to maximise this peak consumer spending period. With UK households spending on average an extra £500 in December to cover gifts, food and socialising, you can understand why.

But with the sheer volume of companies claiming to offer something amazing, how can you make sure your business is a cut above the rest?  From the brand behemoths like Coca Cola to your local independents, everyone is banking on increased sales in the run-up to Christmas to help set them up for the year ahead. The winter months represent a real opportunity for sales and failing to get noticed during this time can lead to disastrous consequences.

Pre-Christmas messaging and positioning is critical in the retailer race to bag the most Christmas sales. Social media waits with bated breath for the annual Christmas adverts to be unveiled and brands share their digital advent calendars to drive engagement and traffic.



  1. First of all, you need to look at your current positioning. Is that where you want to be? Or would you like to shift to a different position?
  2. Look at others who are in that position. Is the competition tough, or is there space for you to compete?
  3. Develop your unique selling point and ensure all your stakeholders are aware and onboard. A two-line mission statement should cover this.



Brands like John Lewis have effectively positioned themselves at the forefront of the consumer consciousness, with their beautiful and emotionally-charged Christmas adverts. Indeed, these adverts have tapped ‘Christmas spirit’ so effectively that they are morphing into part of the nation’s collective Christmas tradition. The Monty the Penguin and Buster the Boxer adverts had millions of views within the first few weeks of release and subtly place John Lewis at the forefront of your mind when thinking about Christmas shopping.

Psychology Today found that TV adverts which evoke an emotional response from people are 3 times more likely to influence their purchase decisions, than the actual content of the advert. Think about what type of emotional response you want to achieve. Is it a warm fuzzy feeling of love, do you want people to laugh or are you pushing for people to feel like they can make a difference through buying from you?

TV isn’t solely responsible for the success of these adverts, they were heavily promoted on social media too; with social advertising being much cheaper and easier to specifically target a specific demographic, it’s a good avenue for smaller businesses to utilise. Ads that evoke an emotion should drive engagement, which helps increase your reach at no additional cost.

Positioning your retail brand at Christmas


More brands are following the example set by the Coca Cola truck in creating a unique one day only customer experience. Building hype and anticipation, that well-known ‘FOMO’ is a proven tactic to growing brand and product awareness.

Despite a growing need for convenience – experience is still critical, especially at Christmas time – when a host of emotions are influencing the normally savvy shopper. The pressure to pick out the perfect present and make that year the ‘best Christmas ever’ are all tied into the Christmas retail experience. Brands that can align with this message and offer their customer empathy, convenience, and a world-class experience are in for a winner. While it’s no secret that more customers are choosing to do their shopping online, events and experiential marketing is just one way to provide all that and more.

Lots of brands also offer a click and collect service, where online orders can be collected instore, which providing your store is well laid out, should also encourage additional impulse purchases.

Selfridges organised a number of in-store Christmas events, and had in-store shopping gurus ‘elfridges’ to help you find the perfect gift. Positioning themselves as a place to not only shop but also enjoy a festive day out.



While big retailers focus on national exposure, independent retailers should focus on locals. Targeting people in Birmingham, if your store is located in Manchester will only eat up advertising spend with little to no conversions. Connect with local influencers and have them promote your products instead for a cost-effective and targeted campaign.

Influencer marketing can help, not only product sales, but also brand awareness and so is a viable option for pre-Christmas marketing. Bigger brands are already using them to great success in the Christmas period to promote product interest. Aldo used an influencer campaign that was aimed around gifting yourself. A series of fashion and lifestyle influencers shared snaps of Aldo products they had bought themselves for Christmas in a clever campaign that got cut-through on social.




Last year Iceland’s powerful Rang Tan advert gave Iceland a full image overhaul as they pledged to remove palm oil from their own-brand products, moving the company from cheap, frozen food retailer to a conscientious and sustainable shopping experience. The week Iceland shared the banned tv advert on their social channels, their YouGov BrandIndex score shot up from 5.9 to 21.6 points, placing them above Waitrose under ‘purchase consideration’.

Changing your brand positioning is no easy task. This job essentially needs to be worked from the inside out, starting with your stakeholders. Choose a cause your business can believe in and get behind wholeheartedly for true success – nothings worse an insincere pledge! The BBC questioned the legitimacy of Iceland’s pledge after spotting products labeled ‘new’ on their website that still contained palm oil. Iceland has insisted that these products were produced prior, but there’s no doubt the BBC and other media outlets will be checking frequently if they have stayed true to their word. Remember that millennials and Generation Z place high importance on authenticity when choosing which brands to buy from, so they’ll be more likely to buy from a brand they believe in.

With tough competition facing retailers this year, the fight for the Christmas pound will be tougher than ever. If you need help with a PR or marketing strategy to elevate your brand during the festive season please get in touch with our team who will provide more information.


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