The 12 Plays of Christmas for 2022: Part I

For the past couple of years, we’ve published The 12 Plays of Christmas – our thoughts on the best practice ideas that retailers can implement in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

This time around, and conscious of the fact that there’s not always time to enact major strategic changes with just over a month to go, we’re doing things a little bit differently. Across two posts, we’re exploring both the short and long term steps that can be taken to create value for customers, grow sales and loyalty during the festive period.

So, without further ado, here are the six quick wins that make up the first part of our 12 Plays for 2022.


Play #1: The last minute shopping list…

The run up to Christmas is a busy time, with a multitude of events and activities vying for our attention. As a result, anything that retailers can do to make life a little easier for their customers can go a long way, particularly in terms of helping them plan.

The priority here should be on identifying which products are most likely to be forgotten. Customer composite metrics can help, highlighting the categories and SKUs that become more important during the last few weeks of the year by customer group, and how sales are likely to shift as a result.

Used effectively, this information can provide customers with some much needed direction – from helping them build lists online through to tailored in-store displays to remind them of the holiday essentials they might otherwise have missed.

“Oh, they have those candy canes that the kids love! Make a note and I’ll grab some when I do the big shop.”


… Play #2: All I want for Xmas is… here!

Whether it’s a little something extra to slide under the tree, or one more side dish to squeeze onto the table, Christmas goes hand-in-hand with last minute purchases. For retailers, that again presents a huge opportunity to make life easier for shoppers.

With stores at peak capacity during the holidays, no-one will relish the prospect of having to scour the shelves for the products they didn’t pick up earlier. Here, retailers can use their insights to create in-store areas that provide a simple grab-and-go experience for key items.

Know which chocolates, spirits, and more saw the greatest pickup on December 24th last year? Why not cluster a selection of those goods together in one place to give your customers an easy last-minute grocery experience?

“You got the snacks, didn’t you? What do you mean you forgot? They were at the top of the list!”


… and Play #3: Festive forget-me-nots

The principles of our first and second Plays can also be used online. Demand for pre-Christmas delivery and click-and-collect slots tends to be at a premium, meaning that shoppers usually only have one chance to get everything they need.

This is where “Have you Forgotten” applications come in. Rather than generating recommendations based on a customer’s prior purchasing behaviours, retailers can instead promote key festive items that they might have missed while building their basket.

As useful as this can be in driving incremental sales, it also provides a genuinely additive service to customers. One click can go a long way when it means the difference between settling in with a sherry or taking a last minute trip to the store.

“Brandy butter! I almost forgot. Your dad would have never forgiven me.”


Play #4: Keeping basket costs down

While many people splash out around Christmas, that doesn’t mean that they’re not still looking for value in their shop. This year in particular, retailers need to make sure that they provide clear opportunities for customers to reduce their total basket cost, especially for those categories where customers are a little more willing to sacrifice quality to stay within budget.

Communication is key. Colleagues need to have excellent knowledge of key categories and the options therein, ensuring that they can direct customers to lower-priced goods as required. Smart use of store media can also aid discovery in that respect.

Whichever tactics you choose to employ, make sure that shoppers can quickly and easily find cheaper alternatives. It’s far better to provide them with options than it is to lose a whole basket because they can’t find low-cost gift wrap, after all.

“So if you’re looking for something really special, then we have these luxury assortment boxes here. If you’re just looking for stocking fillers though, you might want to check out some of our value chocolates just to the right here.”


Play #5: The after party promo plan

The post-holiday lull can be a tricky time, with customers typically looking to let their wallets cool off after a period of prolonged expenditure. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still opportunities to engage them, however.

When the parties start winding down on the morning of January 2nd, many people will already be thinking about what comes next. For those retailers with the right promotions and deals in place, there’s a clear chance to outmanoeuvre – and outperform – the competition.

More than anything, customers will likely be looking for some degree of inspiration in their post-festive shop. Will they focus on healthy eating? New habits? Some advance spring cleaning? Help them discover their new priorities and you’re likely to be rewarded.

“Veganuary? Of course. If you head over to aisle 12, then we have a great range of meat-free alternatives.”


Play #6: Giving colleagues the support they need

From both a sales and customer experience perspective, your shop floor colleagues can make a dramatic difference during the Christmas season. Ensuring that’s the case, however, also means supporting them in the right ways during the run-up, as it can easily become the most stressful time of the year.

Data gathered during some of the other Plays outlined above can help. Provide colleagues with one-page summaries of essential information, from key communications guidelines and priority customer needs through the most-purchased products each week. Go to store, show them that the HQ teams are fully with them and make sure they feel supported and belonging to the mission of making a great festive season for everyone.

By doing so, not only will you help to ensure that they have everything they need to be a great representative of your strategy, you’ll also help them bring it to life in the best possible way.

“The cheese from our TV ad? It’s right over here, let me show you. You know, it goes really well with the red wine that we have on promotion.”


In the next post in this two-part series, we’ll be looking ahead to the following year’s festivities – and the strategic steps you can start thinking about now that’ll give you the edge in 2023.


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