The TV battle for Christmas comes at a high price, but may not yield the same results as a couple of stores opened by an etailer in the run-up to December 25th.
You have to feel a little sorry for the biggest retailers at this time of the year.
They get to take part in an advertising arms race, and, having spent a shedload of money they can probably ill afford at the moment, their efforts are then held up for criticism.
Whether it’s Moz the Monster, a supermarket stating that ‘Everyone’s Welcome’ (of course they are) or Paddington doing the rounds at M&S, by now most people will have seen the majority of the ads that have become as much a part of Christmas as turkey and pud.
Now contrast this with the online merchants, where Missguided shouts the somewhat traditional 1950s song ‘Santa Baby’ on their website, and Net-A-Porter invites onlookers to ‘Party with the Porters’.
“Almost any online retailer that decides it’s time to bridge the digital/terrestrial divide and open a physical shop is almost guaranteed airtime, no matter how relatively shabby their efforts”
Both of these don’t actually cost too much to produce. By the time the e- or m-shopper gets to the point where they’re perusing the pages of a particular etailer’s website, the glamour and glitz of the party season are readily conveyed with a few images and a sparkly font – their wallets are waiting.
But this is not really the point.
Currently, almost any online retailer that decides it’s time to bridge the digital/terrestrial divide and open a physical shop is almost guaranteed airtime, no matter how relatively shabby their efforts.
On this reckoning, Birchbox and Nasty Gal both punch massively above their festive weight and have had more column inches that will attract shoppers than many of their much larger rivals.
Highly-produced ads backed by in-store cuddly toys are not for them.
Maybe they’ll have a few posters on the escalators at Oxford Circus tube – but that will be about it and the physical shops are predominantly a taster for the website.
For etailers, the reality of having a shop that’s open, which will close as soon as Santa rides off into the sunset for another year, is enough to get the digital tills ringing.
A big retailer Christmas wish therefore is: ‘Dear Santa, could you make me as effective at attention-grabbing as the online outfits and save me the cost of yet another TV campaign?’
It won’t happen, but it is symptomatic of how the very biggest retailers are being brought low by an entirely opposite approach to selling.