Why brands must create seamless media experiences this festive season

Why brands must create seamless media experiences this festive season

Brands must see an increasingly complex holiday shopping journey through the eyes of the customer – not through the lens of their own siloed structures.


We’re about to enter the retail sector’s busiest time of year, and for retailers and brands, the stakes have never been higher, as the cost-of-living crisis looms large.

Post-Covid, and in the current financial climate, consumers are very conscious of how and where they will spend their money this festive season. Our recent Winter Shopping study, which examined people’s shopping intentions for key winter shopping moments this year, found that, unsurprisingly, consumers are expecting to spend less on Christmas this time around, with 73% overall identifying the cost of living as the reason for cutting back.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Our research showed that some consumers are less cautious than others as, despite overall cutbacks, younger cohorts are most likely to increase their spending on Christmas 2022, with 14% of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they will spend more.

Of course, with the need to cut back amongst many consumers, there comes an increased appetite for a good deal. 65% of consumers said that “Getting good deals is more important to me this year, as money is tighter” – a 15% net increase year-on-year.

Furthermore, 46% of those surveyed agreed that “I’m expecting retailers to be making bigger discounts this year”.

Online and offline experiences should match

The study paints a picture of consumers who are looking forward to the festive period, but who are being more careful and more considered about how and where they shop.

With this in mind, how can brands cut through and drive sales this festive season? The answer may lie in the way in which consumers are approaching their winter shopping this year.

Our research revealed a greater propensity for hybrid shopping experiences (i.e., a blend of physical and digital retail) this year. British shoppers are more likely to do their Black Friday shopping in a hybrid way in 2022, with a quarter (25%) of respondents saying they will do their shopping both online and in-store, a net increase of 7% year-on-year.

Increasingly, we’re seeing consumers going in-store to try out a product, before going online to find a deal and make the purchase. This behaviour will no doubt become more pronounced in line with the growing appetite for bargains.

This reflects a broader trend that took hold in the pandemic, when the evolution of the retail sector was turbo-charged – the expectation that the online experience should match the offline, and vice versa, and that the shopping experience should be seamless.

The purchase of a Christmas gift may begin with seeing something on TV or TikTok, then a trip in-store to see the product close-up, followed by a Google search and then a purchase on the brand’s own website or on a marketplace such as Amazon, depending on who’s offering the best price.

As the customer journey becomes more complex, brands must promote the online and offline experience synchronously, so that the consumer feels captivated, part of the process and in control of their choices.

For example, consumers browsing online and clicking on an ad for some makeup for a loved one may then want to go in-store to look at the product close up. Once they’ve clicked on the ad and visited the retailer’s site, brands should enable them to check stock levels so that their trip into town isn’t wasted.

Break down barriers between media and retail teams

Given that opportunity to drive greater sales, why do so few brands get this right? In many cases, it’s because their own internal teams are organised in silos. Typically, media teams and retail teams sit separately and have different objectives. To offer the most seamless experience to customers, brands must break down these barriers and align their objectives across channels.

Brands must bring the real and virtual worlds together, ensuring that their on and offline experiences are aligned and complementary, rather than looking and feeling completely different to each other.

If you offer a virtual try-on experience on your app or brand website, why wouldn’t you also offer that same experience in-store, to enable customers to try on clothing which may be out of stock (with the added bonus of a sales associate on hand to offer advice) before placing an order for delivery?

Brands should also use data and personalised communications to create a smooth path-to-purchase, enabling people to shop more easily. For example, targeted digital-out-of-home ads in close proximity to a luxury retail store signposting the number of appointments available, with a QR code to allow people to check stock availability, can make it quicker and easier for a customer to get access to products.


During one of the most challenging festive periods for retailers in recent years, when consumers are more careful with their money and their path to purchase is more complex than ever, brands in this space must see the customer journey through the eyes of the customer – not through the lens of their own siloed structures. All teams within a retail organisation or brand must have the same core objectives in sight, in order to deliver a seamless experience.

What’s more, they must harness data and the most meaningful media to reach customers with the right message, at the right place and the right time.

With savvy shoppers on the lookout for bargains over the next few months, and when every sale counts, brands simply can’t afford to miss out.

Pedro Ramos is head of ecommerce at Havas Market.

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