12/23/2014 05:37 EST | Updated 02/22/2015 05:59 EST

This Shift From Christmas Giving to Getting Boxing Day Deals

Matthew Lloyd via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Members of the public queue round the block in anticipation of the Boxing Day sales at Selfridges on December 26, 2013 in London, England. Statistics have shown that this year people are more likely to shop in the sales online than on the high street for the first time. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

As the chill sets in the air for the foreseeable future, it's clear that it's that time of year again -- holiday shopping season.

It seems like every year, consumers are heading out earlier and earlier, seeking deals and looking for the perfect gifts. And in recent years, Halloween has barely passed before marketers begin courting holiday shoppers ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Despite the two being tied to American Thanksgiving, the desire to jump in on the shopping frenzy has long since crossed north of the border. In fact, figures showed that in 2013, Canadian spending jumped 19 per cent on Black Friday and 29 per cent on Cyber Monday.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday have undoubtedly caught on in Canada, much of the shopping done at that time is with gift-giving in mind. But a recent Accenture study found that one third (33 per cent) of Canadians expect to find the best deals on Boxing Day. But what is in the mind of a consumer by the time Boxing Day rolls around?

With holiday shopping in the rear view, many consumers are likely to have shifted their purchasing attention to finding deals for themselves.

Differentiating Boxing Day offerings

The same Accenture study noted above also found that for Canadians, Black Friday is gaining momentum -- though 33 per cent of Canadians expect to find the best deals on Boxing Day, another 33 per cent felt the same way about Black Friday.

As prices north of the border are still roughly 20 per cent more than those in the U.S., Canadian retailers have to work harder to appeal to consumers. Some American retailers, such as Express, have maintained similar pricing north of the border to appeal to deal-seeking Canadians. This means that marketers need to work even harder to capture consumer attention.

Given the aggressive push from American retailers to appeal to Canadian shoppers, companies need to think about how to make Boxing Day stand out. An example of this is housewares retailer Linen Chest, who had been faced with high competition from big-box retailers. The company worked with Canada Post on a tailored mailing program for a Boxing Day and year-end sale in Montreal. Rather than rely on standard ad bags, which many people ignore, the company used a thoughtfully-targeted specialty direct mail option to generate increased interest. This led to a 184 per cent higher per-flyer net revenue -- a result of a different way to capture consumers' attention, while wooing their deal-finding mind sets.

Beyond coupons and deals, a number of marketers look to win with nostalgia and emotion. Canadian Tire did it in the '80s and '90s with its Scrooge and Santa commercials, and Coca-Cola did it with its polar bear commercials. Boxing Day, too, holds a memorable place in the hearts of consumers. For instance, iconic Toronto music store Sam the Record Man continues to be remembered for its legendary Boxing Day sales, which saw shoppers lined up in droves seeking discounts and bargains. Tapping into the emotion around the holidays is just another way to stand out.

Digital means retail opportunities are everywhere

During the holiday shopping season, marketers also need to consider the many digital opportunities that exist. No longer is holiday shopping about rushing through the mall with crowds of people. With the rise of mobile apps and payments, retail marketing is right at consumers' fingertips, so why not use this to our advantage?

With the holiday swirl in full swing, marketers need to consider campaigns that reach consumers at multiple touchpoints and across a number of screens. Recent Microsoft research found that three-quarters (74 per cent) of Canadians remember an ad when it has been viewed across multiple platforms.

With so much competition for consumers' attention, multi-screen campaigns can help increase the likelihood that a campaign will pique interest and having a lasting impact, especially when a purchase is just a click away.

Making an impact for Boxing Day

So what else can marketers keep in mind when planning for Boxing Day? Here are some considerations to think about:

Strategic timing. Pushing a Boxing Day campaign too early may lead to it getting lost in the mania surrounding Black Friday. Be thoughtful about timing to help your campaign remain top-of-mind in the lead-up to Boxing Day.

Unique positioning. Consumers will inevitably be met with a cacophony of discounts, sales and offerings. Think about how you can position your campaign as distinct from the rest.

Consumer mindset.With gift-giving largely at a close, consider appealing to consumers looking for deals for themselves. Some may look to spend some of their holiday haul, while others may seek home essentials.

Impactful content. Having a strong offering that is well-timed and appealing to consumers is key, but ultimately, it's crucial to reach consumers through memorable, relevant content. You want yours to be the brand that sticks out -- don't let your brand get lost in the holiday hustle and bustle.


Boxing Day 2014: Where To Find The Best Deals Across Canada