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Emotive marketing and the psychology of holiday shopping

December 19, 2018

The holiday season is here again, and brands of all types are clamoring to capitalize on the festive feeling.

As much as some people like to bemoan the “pumpkin-spicing” of what seems like every food product, it makes sense for businesses. Flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, and peppermint can be enjoyed year-round, but there’s a reason they’re so popular during their respective holiday seasons. People love associating certain traditions, activities, and foods with specific times of year. It’s that warm and fuzzy factor that makes people gleefully proclaim, “It’s sweater weather!” while pulling comfy cable-knits and boots from the depths of their closets. Seasonal product offerings are part of that cycle.

One of The Martin Group’s first projects for Wegmans, America’s favorite grocery store, was designing a holiday look for their W O’s candy cane flavored sandwich cookies. The festive packaging featured a family-friendly snowman in a snowy scene. We followed that up with a Halloween W O’s design in the same playful style.   

Whether it’s a package of cookies on a store shelf or an ironically (or unironically) purchased “ugly Christmas sweater,” the appearance of an item engenders feelings in the consumer—feelings that help them decide whether or not to take the item home. One study revealed that up to 90% of a shopper’s initial assessment of a product is based on color alone.

The use of emotional appeals in advertisements can also impact consumer behavior. An analysis of successful advertising campaigns found that 33% of ads featuring emotional content performed well, compared to 16% of ads featuring rational content.

Our holiday campaign with PetSmart is another example of using expressive print elements to evoke emotion in customers. Focusing on the idea of pets as family members, our team created festive posters, endcap displays, and other in-store materials that helped transform the holiday shopping experience for pet owners.

5 tips for effective holiday marketing:

  1. Focus on the “why” – the emotion behind the message
  2. Take creative risks, but stay true to your brand
  3. Don’t shy away from the sentimental or “cheesy” – the holiday season is the time for cheesy
  4. Offer helpful product tips to take the stress out of the holidays
  5. Partner with a nonprofit that shares your company’s values

Have questions about your upcoming campaign? Drop us a line. We’re here to help.

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