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Festive Marketing In An ‘Unprecedented’ Era: The 3 Ps of Christmas 2020

by Emily Knox | 13.11.2020

Christmas is always a key time for marketers, as a key sales period, featuring big budget ads which can set the tone for communications over the coming year.

In many ways Christmas 2020 will be even more important for marketers – but also harder to navigate. This will be a Christmas like no other – or certainly none in recent memory. There is an economic downturn, millions are under- or unemployed, the UK death toll is tragically nearing 50,000 and the threat of disease is ever-present. But despite this 53% of us expect Christmas to be extra special this year (TGI, Q3 2020) which is a perspective shared across all generations. 

Getting the tone right is of paramount importance this year, and we are already seeing a ‘back to basics’ approach from the big retailer Christmas ads. But there are other factors at play. My advice? Consider the 3 Ps of a Pandemic Christmas: Product, Price and Principles.


If you have a product or service which is new or innovative you are in luck. According to Facebook, the disruption of Covid-19 means that people are more receptive than ever to purchases they may never have considered in 2019. Make the most of this in your messaging – and if your product isn’t new consider if covid may have uncovered any new audiences. If sourdough and space heaters have achieved newfound popularity, perhaps your product or service can too.

If you have a great product make sure people are talking about it. People have started their Christmas shopping earlier this year, it’s more online than ever and they are doing their research online too. This means you need great feedback on review sites and excellent community management and customer service on your social media channels. A Dynata study found that people have switched their window shopping from real-life to online, with 31% using Facebook and 25% using Instagram to research products. 


Will Christmas spending be on track with previous years or fall off a cliff? Well done if you can predict this as every new data set which comes out in Q4 this year seems to contradict the last…

70% of British shoppers do not plan to decrease their Christmas spending this year and 73% of that spending will primarily take place online. (Rakuten

More than two-thirds (70%) of UK shoppers plan to spend less on Christmas presents this year, as a result of concerns around both the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing economic uncertainty (Kaizo)

I think what is clear is that people, naturally, are going to want to continue to give thoughtful and meaningful gifts to their loved ones. And the stark reality is many will have less available cash to do so. This means the importance of price is at an all-time high. So set yours thoughtfully.

The other big trend is discounting. It’s been happening since March when businesses began to suffer from lockdowns and it’s continued apace. More than any other year shoppers are looking for price cuts so consider this in your festive marketing mix.


The change in the way we live, the way we work, the way we socialise means people have reassessed what is important. We are thinking more about where we spend our money, our environment and our impact on it, and our communities.

Successful brands will be doing something for people, for nature, for charity or all three. See more here on some brands who did this brilliantly back in March.

A good example is this Christmas campaign from Snag tights which I stumbled upon last night.

Snag are asking their fans to give a shout out to small businesses they love, which Snag will then amplify using their highly engaged social channels. The categories are all complementary rather than competitive with Snag and it’s a feel-good message which is also useful to their followers – giving a ready-made list of independent retailers you can feel good spending your pounds with. Neat.

What is certain is that this is set to be the most digital Christmas ever – certainly for shopping – (I rather less hope so for Zoom Christmas dinners). So your digital strategy – including targeted advertising, social media and SEO – are all more important than ever. And these trends may have been kickstarted by a pandemic but I believe we will see them continue in whatever our 2021 ‘new normal’ evolves to be.