Is Santa Claus Still Coming to town?

TLDR: This year Christmas will be different but we know that families want to continue celebrating together, so old habits will need to be replaced by new ones, different ones, if we still wish to enjoy this Holiday Season.


So this is Christmas…

We’ve changed, all of us.

We’ve discovered new habits and perhaps brought back old ones. Some chose to accept the pandemic as an opportunity for a lifestyle change.

Our ways of life and habits naturally change over time. However, the last few months accelerated change at a pace never experienced before: cooking at home is now cool, gardening, spending time indoors, exercising in our living room, and even remote work – all these have changed us to the core. We now realize what truly is important: to be happy, healthy, and emotionally stable.

As we see brands searching for ways to recover and rebuild from Covid-19’s global impact, we seek to comprehend what people are expecting and what they are worried about the Holiday Season and beyond. That is the key for brands to unlock a better outcome, understanding the clients’ needs and their emotions.

One thing we are sure of: New times arise, and they demand a new way to experience Christmas and a new “tone” for this unique festive season.

All I want for Christmas is you…(even if it’s in a Digital Format)

Well, yes and no…

Yes, when we talk about shopping

Avoiding crowds is in everyone’s mind. The demand for contactless solutions and the increased online shopping reflects a new embedded behaviour: online and e-commerce are here to stay, at least until a vaccine is developed.

If we compare 2019 to 2020, we can see that online shopping grew by an average of 13% across all sectors and offline shopping shrunk by 18%.

It’s clear that this Christmas won’t feature some of those quaint social activities we’re so used to. Singing along to Mariah Carey’s hit Christmas song as we stroll through a mall, children smiling (or crying) while sitting on Santa’s lap, feeling the warmth of a hot mulled wine or the thrill of ice-skating outdoors.

Nevertheless, we can still bring the very same emotions as well as the look & feel with us online. This year digital solutions are the key to making magic happen and the best part is that we only need a bit of creativity.

Social media is here to help, and online activations will be the most helpful resource to maintain the connection for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Consumers have increased their average time on social media by 82 minutes per day. It means that we are even more motivated by social influencers, and is likely to have a massive increase in sales for the festive season.¹

Probably not, when we talk about human connection

People should be at the heart of all brands’ actions, and empathy should be the most important guideline to design any kind of interaction with customers.

As we know, humans are social creatures who crave for connection and social approval from the communities we live in:  Empathy and Care are part of the special ingredients of these necessities and this why Christmas, that special time of the year when people are more connected than ever, is strongly compromised in 2020.

This year we need to reframe the meaning of Christmas. Redesign what means to be closer to our loved ones.

When asked about the first thing they would like to do when this is all over, the answers did not leave room for doubt: return to the office, visiting relatives or dating were the top answers. This is deeply tied to our need for authentic and real human connection, physical and not in the digital form.

FACT: “Despite efforts to replicate human behaviour and gestures through automation and AI, the essentials of human connection – eye contact, personal touch, empathy – remain irreplaceable by technology”.²


Rocking a new song for Christmas 2020?

A brand with a purpose is bigger than itself and Purpose is now considered the 5th “P” of Philip Kotler’s “Marketing Mix”. This demand for meaning comes from our compulsion, as humans, to link a brands’ purpose with our capacity to trust their message, authenticity and ultimately to consume their products or services.

The pandemic situation made people strive to be better, to feel better and to be surrounded by brands that boast authenticity and in alignment with their stated purpose.

More than ever, the advertising & communication industry needs to reshape the concept of Christmas, give it a new purpose, rewriting the story and, the most important: Give Christmas a tone that matches the time we are living, both on the emotional and economical sides.³

FACT: Advertisers are expected to spend almost £725m less than last Christmas.⁴ 


Santa Claus is (not) coming to town

Christmas means much more than giving and receiving gifts. Nonetheless, this consumer tradition is still a huge part of the Christmas experience.

COVID-19’s impact on personal finances will not be the same for everyone. Some had almost no change to their income while others suffered huge pay cuts and even job losses. Even though this a new economic strike, the past has shown us that this is still a season where people do spend quite a lot. And we know that most consumers will want to give a special sparkle to this Christmas, trying to make the best of a difficult time.

Expectations are that people will spend money, time, and effort to have the most “normal” Christmas possible.

  1. FACT: Most people buy for at least six others and we will see no change this year.⁵

  2. FACT: 53% of people surveyed globally expect COVID-19 to have little or no impact on their personal finances.⁶

  3. FACT: A survey by the retailer found that almost a third of consumers are planning Christmas earlier than usual, with 74% of them buying gifts earlier and 39% already stocking up on food. Some 60% say they will have their Christmas shopping done by the end of November, while just 8% said they would wait until the week before Christmas and 2% until Christmas Eve.⁷



It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (with a different table)

Christmas 2020 will be one-of-a-kind (we hope) and it could provide a good opportunity to reinvent rituals that make the ordinary into extraordinary, as Jodi Eichler-Levine, a professor of religion studies at Lehigh University says.⁸

“There is uncertainty around what the festive period will look like for food and drink businesses. The opportunity: those who are not showing financial problems are going to spend more on foods and drinks and shift to premium products. The Christmas atmosphere goes into every detail that surrounds us, be it the dining table decor, lights or maybe the traditional recipes. With smaller gatherings this year, brands should consider luxury treats for people to enjoy alone or with a small family group.”⁹

FACT: There are some things that happen without fail. One is obviously spending more on food and drink. Another is trading up to premium.¹⁰

For example, why not turn the traditional Christmas dinner parties with friends into a luxurious hybrid experience? A high-end bespoke food basket delivered to your home with handpicked ingredients and personalized details and a Michelin Chef cooking class just for you and your friends – The Residential Gourmet Home Experience. We invite you to find more about it here.

It’s (still) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas 2020 brings the opportunity of putting behind us an extremely demanding year, it gives us the opportunity to appreciate the presence of our closed ones and a chance to appreciate the joy and glee so typical of this time of year.

Social and economic repercussions of a global pandemic plus, the expectation of the consumer during Christmas time led us to the conclusion that magic will happen this year through authenticity, purpose and simplicity: “Simplicity in terms of accessibility online, simplicity in terms of consumer expectations and simplicity in terms of messaging”.¹¹


  5. The 2020 Facebook Christmas Package
  7. 2020 Deloitte holiday retail survey