This Holiday Season Think People, Not Things

December 20, 2016

Every holiday season millions of people are struck by the panic of not knowing what to buy for friends and family. They have a genuine desire to make those around them happy, but multitudinous choice, fickle tastes, and the overwhelming crowds seem to stand in their way. As we get into the heart of holiday shopping it is perhaps worth noting that according to the latest Prosumer Report, Pride and Prejudice: Shifting Mindsets in an Age of Uncertainty, Canadians say “being with family” and “spending time with friends” are the two most important things contributing to their happiness.

With 81% of Canadians, and 91% of parents saying that “being with family” made them happy, and only 39% of Canadians believing that “surrounding themselves with items they love” contributes to their happiness, perhaps there is an opportunity for brands to push connection over mere consumption.

This recent spot from London’s Heathrow Airport captures this idea perfectly. For the majority of brands out there who depend on holiday sales to stay in the black, this shift in focus could seem suicidal. But one need only look to brands like Patagonia and REI to find examples of brands that have spurned overt consumerism and reaped business rewards. Both brands have encouraged people not to shop their stores during the biggest holiday shopping season, and both have found consumers loving them all the more for doing so.

The trick is, if you are going to take the tack of encouraging people to connect with those they love — to visit and to spend time with friends and family instead of merely buying things for them, then you must do so from a place of genuine conviction.  But if you do it right, people will genuinely love you for it. So if you genuinely want happy customers, and to stand out this season, encourage people to find ways to spend less time walking the mall and more time with friends and family. You may miss a few short term sales, but you’ll gain customers for life.