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‘Tis the season to add value

In 1931 Coca-Cola’s advertising efforts crystallised our modern day image of Santa Claus and in doing so, the co-existence between advertisers’ best efforts and the festive season was born. This year amidst the usual bustle, excitement and colour, evidence abounds that brands continue to relish the tradition of dazzling us with their wares in the hope of gaining consumers’ attention, engagement and loyalty for the coming year. Amid the sparkle and the buzz, the ads and the offers, brands that can demonstrate real value to consumers will seize the opportunity to make their presence known and be remembered long after the tinsel is packed away.

So how is value being defined beyond deals and price points in the digital age? Quite simply, for consumers, value is relevance. We’re seeing an increasing number of brands using the quest for greater relevance to shape their campaigns to drive both festive offers and deals, and also core brand positioning in competitive consumer markets. Coca-Cola’s popular 2010 festive music campaign ‘Shake Up Christmas’ was last year ‘localised’ by a new singer giving a fresh take on the song in 6 languages to make it relevant (and resonate) in 90 territory markets for the global brand giant.  Similarly, the 2006 campaign by OfficeMax, which encouraged consumers to ‘Elf Yourself’ in an e-card, has become something of a new Christmas tradition in the years since. The original campaign objective was to spread a little joy and communicate the brand’s core attributes: friendly, useful, convenient and economical.  With nearly 480M ‘Elves’ created, that’s a job well done!

Tapping festive consumer behaviours extends beyond shopping and sending cards – at this time of year, whole industries can find themselves with prime opportunities to build greater relevance and value into their consumers’ lives. Brands in the travel and hospitality vertical are especially well placed to meet consumers on digital pathways as annual plans to visit relatives and organise social gatherings have both timely and location-based relevance to consumers. This is where highly relevant deals become the bridge between people, allowing them to make emotional connections – be it a family gathering made possible by a discounted flight, or a last minute dinner reservation secured for the moral-boosting office party.

By engaging with brand offers, people can better engage with each other, and the value of that can’t be underestimated as it elevates a straightforward ‘ad’ for example, into something more meaningful. On the mobile channel, arguably the most personal of all digital channels, a highly relevant in-app ad for that discounted flight can, for the cash-conscious consumer who’s wishing to spend the holidays with family overseas, become a well-received, well-timed, digital whisper that facilitates something of value far beyond a good deal, and for the advertiser, makes their brand stand out from the noise of festive offers purely for the personal relevance it holds.

In this time of giving, brands will be looking to reward their consumers, nurturing loyalty where it exists and cultivating it where possible. Here we see mobile CRM campaigns going above and beyond the standard offers to achieve a gold-standard for the chosen, loyal few. At their core, it’s a way to give thanks and let consumers know they are special and valued. In addition to these efforts, brands are extending the concept of giving through synchronous charitable campaigns (with donation pledges for each purchase, for example) as further incentive for consumers to engage, and as a means of demonstrating brand values.  Recent reports* underscore the commercial benefits of brands extending their campaigns in this way: in 2012 53 percent of internet users said that when price and quality were the same, brands that had a social purpose were more likely to trigger a purchase. What’s more, nearly half who purchased from cause supporting brand, did so on a monthly basis. Further, reports show that 75 percent** of consumers would take action after seeing a location-based message.

As the season unfolds into a new year, we expect to see brands, and those using the mobile channel in particular, maximise their ability to leverage personal relevance and value when engaging consumers. This can be achieved by building campaigns that deliver value for consumers wherever they meet – in apps, on sites, via social networks or in store.  In doing so, brands will need to skilfully combine the contextual relevance indicators that give due consideration to consumers’ behaviour, location, social networks and other peer influencers (e.g. user-generated recommendations) preferences and demographics to name a few. Add to this a genuine understanding of changeable influences such as the local weather or traffic conditions, and also those personally emotive influences – be they societal causes or strongly held beliefs (religion, politics etc), and they can begin to build a better understanding of the personal definition of relevance for each and every consumer. Brands who succeed, will find themselves valued and relevant the whole year through.

*             Study conducted by Edelman, reported by eMarketer, December, 2012

**           JiWire Mobile Audience Insights Report 2011

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