Conversions and connections: Customer incentives mean more this Christmas

Posted on September 12, 2023 by Kess Crighton

Christmas is a major time for marketers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t run a Christmas campaign of some kind – whether it’s an online seasonal sale or blockbuster Christmas commercial.

Seasonal promotions are so widespread and welcomed in today’s commercialised Christmas climate that they’ve become tradition. For many consumers, the launch of big-budget adverts marks the start of the festive season. The most heartfelt stories are lovingly shared on social media and in group chats between family, friends and colleagues – like Christmas cards.

Promotions grow in both popularity and profitability during the festive season because they strengthen emotional connections and significantly influence purchasing decisions.

As a nation, we connect with festive campaigns because our emotions are heightened at Christmas. We remember the happy moments of Christmases past, and treasure memories made with those no longer with us. We cherish the time we get to spend with friends and family, and look forward to making memories to carry with us in the future.

Christmas is an emotional time for everyone, which is why marketers have long used heightened emotional tactics in their seasonal campaigns. The most effective promotions make us feel something – whether that’s joy, hope, sadness or nostalgia. And it’s these strong emotions that give Christmas campaigns the power to change perceptions, influence purchase decisions and create connections.

But it’s not just the big-budget TV adverts that engender emotional impact. You can do the same with your own Christmas promotions, and they’ll be more impactful than ever.

Customer incentives in a cost-of-giving Christmas

The increased cost of giving is presenting a challenge for marketers who need to capture reduced demand and convert cash-strapped customers. But the current economic climate also presents an opportunity.

As many household budgets are a little stretched this year, your seasonal promotions will need to be more effective than ever at converting prospects. But you may be surprised to hear that – even in today’s economic climate – the most effective incentives aren’t financial discounts or cash bonuses. The most impactful incentives tap into the heightened emotions customers experience at Christmas. When you make customers feel special, hopeful and festive, you’ll deliver the emotional response required to build connections – and give them the nudge they need to convert.

To explore this phenomenon further, we surveyed 1,000 British consumers to discover their promotional preferences. When asked whether they’d prefer to receive a gift card as part of an incentive or the equivalent sum in cash, the majority of respondents said they’d prefer to receive a gift card. Why? Because a gift card makes prospects feel hopeful, excited and festive – relieved even. It gives them permission to indulge in a spot of retail therapy in the run up to Christmas, rather than earmarking cash or money saved for essential items, bills or utilities.

Spark a little magic with M&S Gift Cards

When it comes to which gift card to choose, you can’t get much more festive than M&S.

To many consumers, M&S is synonymous with Christmas. From fancy party food to decadent Christmas puds; sequined gowns to cosy slippers, people love to treat themselves to a little M&S sparkle during the festive season. And that’s exactly what you can give your prospects with an M&S Gift Card.

Incentivising purchase with an M&S Gift Card gives prospects permission to treat themselves to all the little extras that make festive season so special. You’ll be adding a touch of magic to their Christmas – and that magical feeling will forever be associated with your brand.

The proof is in the (Christmas) pudding. We asked 1,000 British consumers whether an M&S Gift Card would make them more likely to make a purchase with a company, and 71% agreed that it would.

A seasonal uptick like that? Too good to ignore.

Add M&S Gift Cards to your seasonal promotions this year, and you’ll not only increase conversions and maximise spend. You’ll create lasting connections between your customers and your brand.

To learn more about the emotional impact of magical customer incentives, read our report, ‘Unforgettable impressions: What do your corporate gifts say about your brand?’.