While winter is undoubtedly the season to be jolly, it’s also a period when brands across an array of markets ramp up their marketing efforts.

This rule particularly applies to online marketing, with digital media’s share of retail spending during the holiday period having increased incrementally in the winter of 2019.

Digital marketing represents just one element of a successful winter marketing campaign, however, and there are several other considerations for brands to keep in mind when the cold weather bites. These include:

Bright is Better

The winter is cold, dank and dark, which is just one of the reasons why we tend to crave more comfort foods during the winter.

According to research in Nutritional Psychiatry, happy hormones and neurotransmitters (such as dopamine and serotonin) are produced when food passes through our gut, helping to alleviate the feelings of sadness and depression that can take hold in winter.

coca cola billboard

The same principle applies to all of our senses during the winter months, as we crave warmth, light and fun through even everyday interactions.

In this respect, creating bright and visually bold advertising both on and offline makes it far easier to engage customers on a deeper psychological level. It even works from a practical perspective, as vivid outdoor ads contrast sharply with the winter backdrop and are far more effective at initially engaging passing consumers.

Integrated Campaigns Provide Better Coverage of the Customer Journey

Cold and arduous weather conditions tend to trigger an increase in ecommerce markets, with an estimated one-third of customers buying more online during the winter.

However, the increased desire to engage in corporeal social settings and the effectiveness of in-store winter sales encourage many people to shop offline during the festive period, and in this respect, you’ll need to invest in integrated marketing campaigns that provide superior coverage of the typical customer journey.

From an out-of-home (OOH) perspective, this means targeting busy roadside and shopping centre locations, particularly those that typically see high volumes of traffic and include popular points of congregation such as coffee shops.

This will require you to combine smaller indoor posters with large, 96-sheet billboards that run alongside major roads, in order to engage target audience members strategically and at different stages of their journey.

Remember, people who interact with billboards are also 17% more likely to engage with a brand through their smartphone, so creating an integrated and connected campaign really enables you to optimise those winter sales!

You Should Capitalise on Small Events and Holidays

Brands often create marketing and content calendars, so that they can identify key events and holidays ahead of time before planning effective campaigns.

This includes both small or regional events and large-scale national holidays, many of which (such as Christmas, Valentines’ Day and New Years’ Day) occur during the winter months.

Make no mistake; this creates a unique and important opportunity for brands, who can leverage these events and the associated increases in consumer spending that they’re responsible for.

For detail oriented brands who want to compete more aggressively with their rivals, it’s particularly important to target small and lesser-known events that are relevant to their product or service.

These can include everything from International Women’s Day (on March 8th) to the National Novel Writing Month (November), so long as you’re able to create a viable link between your brand and the event in question.

You can find a comprehensive list of small events and international celebrations here, and we’d recommend creating a detailed calendar that enables you to plan and schedule content well ahead of time.

Christmas is a Time for Philanthropy

Of course, Christmas remains the single most popular and seminal winter holiday, and this religious festival is renowned for being a time of giving as well as receiving

With this in mind, you should consider creating a marketing campaign that’s built on the foundation of philanthropy, as you look to give back to a worthy cause while showcasing your brand and products in a uniquely positive light.

If you own and operate a start-up venture or SME, you may be better served by giving back to the local community, so consider partnering with regional charities and nonprofit organisations in a way that may also benefit your core audience.

Conversely, you could simply partner with a relevant local or national charity during the winter period, before pleading to donate a fixed percentage of your quarterly profits to the cause. Just be sure to apply this to your total profits rather than the retail price of individual goods, as this way you’re not compelling your customers to contribute to a cause that they may disagree with.

This may also offer an opportunity for relevant product placement, but your main focus should be on creating a feel-good winter campaign that successfully gives back to the community and helps to build trust and goodwill amongst local customers.

Emotive and Engaging Content Works Well

We’ve already touched on how we crave warmth, fun and human interaction during the winter, and this is definitely something that brands should look to leverage with their seasonal marketing campaigns.

More specifically, brands should look to create emotive ads that tap into appropriate themes such as family, romance and love, so long as the content is also relevant to the product or service they’re hoping to sell.

When creating interactive billboards or online ads, you can evolve this concept further to replicate emotive sensory experiences as a way of engaging customers.

During the festive period, the use of upbeat or seasonal music can be particularly effective, as can subtle soundtracks such as the laughter of children or the chatter at a family gathering. Such elements can be especially engaging when combined with warm and emotive imagery, depending on the quality of your overall execution.

You should also note that the highest-converting ad colours tend to be bright primary and secondary shades, which also happen to be particularly effective during the winter. These include red, orange and yellow, which are inherently warm and inviting against an increasingly darksome backdrop.

Nostalgia Can be a Key Marketing Tool

Nostalgia marketing is an increasingly common tactic in the modern age, and while it’s viable all year round, it appears to have particular merit during the sentimental and reflective months of winter.

This term refers to campaigns that tap into positive cultural memories from previous decades, creating an emotive hook that has been successfully leveraged by brands such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Lego in recent times.

Interestingly, it’s thought that this type of marketing works particularly well when targeting Millennials, and there are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, the Millennial demographic is now entering its prime spending years, with its youngest members having reached the age of 18. Similarly, many Millennials are at an age where they fondly remember influences from their youth, creating a natural and familiar hook for brands to leverage.

Millennials are also an increasingly savvy group of customers that are cynical of major brands, and they tend to gravitate towards businesses that are perceived to be relatable and trustworthy.

Of course, winter also enables us to tap into particularly warm and fondly remembered examples of nostalgia, from the classic 80’s Christmas tracks that Millennials grew up with to the games and consoles that defined the holidays for many youngsters in the 90s.

This is definitely something to keep in mind this winter, as you look to create targeted and engaging campaigns that boast a unique and emotive hook.

The Last Word

Winter has always been renowned as a significant period for advertisers, thanks to the impact of increased consumer spending and the number of consumer holidays that take place during this time.

However, the colder months of the year may well call for unique and tailored promotional tactics, particularly as customers adapt their behaviour and brands look to leverage concepts such as emotive and nostalgic marketing.

By considering the tips referenced above, you can hopefully refine your own marketing tactics this winter, while creating integrated campaigns that deliver a viable return on your spend.