Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas Creep

It's not your imagination - Christmas season started early this year

By Sue O’Shea - Director, Integrated Insight
The local easy listening station in Los Angeles (KOST 103.5) started playing Christmas tunes 24 hours a day on November 15, almost 2 weeks before Thanksgiving!   Last year, the station started the holiday music programming on Thanksgiving Day.  According to the Consumerist this early start can have a negative emotional impact on consumers, in part, by taking the specialness out of the holiday. 

But while this kind of “Christmas Creep” may make people grumpy, the station’s Christmas music programming has proven successful. Last year the holiday ratings boost for KOST was 10.2% audience share, crushing competitors, including No. 2 KIIS-FM which came in at 5.5. Despite any negative repercussions, this year the Christmas hype is being rolled out earlier than ever – and there are strategic reasons why according to Matt Brownell in his Daily Finance retail article:
  • No Presidential Election. This year, retailers had free rein to take over the airwaves in the fall, and they took advantage.
  • A Late Black Friday.  This means a shortened “holiday season” and retailers are not going to wait until Nov. 29th to roll out the promotional efforts.  
  • Early Hanukkah.  The first night of the Hanukkah falls on the evening before Thanksgiving.
  • More Focus on Low-Income Shoppers. Walmart officially kicked off the holiday season back in August, when it announced its holiday layaway program. Meanwhile, Kmart aired the first official holiday commercial of the season - an ad for its layaway program.  The nature of layaway means retailers have to begin talking about the program early.
  • And finally, Because It Works.  Even though some may react poorly, the displays and music still get people spending, and at higher rates than they would if stores opted to wait. According to the National Retail Federation, 2012 saw an immensely profitable holiday season as stores experienced an overall sales increase of 3.5 percent, or $579.5 billion more in sales. The NRF predicts that this year’s holiday sales will increase even more. 
Maybe the Christmas music on the radio is helping to motivate early and additional spending, but I have vowed not to pay any attention to the Holidays until the day after Thanksgiving.

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