Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #15

Retailers are savvy about the message that they send to their customers. They spend countless dollars on marketing and media consultants, in-house and outside advertising and marketing gurus and test with focus groups the kind of commercials and advertising they plan to use. I myself saw first hand how marketing campaigns are crafted while working for a national retailer, and it is truly an amazing process.

During the holidays, these campaigns are even more intense and there is an even stronger emotional and cultural component that is designed to resonate more deeply with the consumer. This is more than selling a toy or a bike, this is selling how that toy or bike fits into your family, your lifestyle and your dreams and desires of how the holidays "should" look and feel for your family. These campaigns even poke a bit at feelings of guilt (hurried working mom who feels that she should be spending more time with her kids) or inferiority (the next door neighbor has the Lexus sedan with a big red bow, why don't I have one?)! I won't even touch the intensity of the media campaigns focusing on kids and the "want" vs. "need" factor for toys and gadgets!

This leads to an easy, no-nonsense holiday tip:


Turn off the TV during the holiday season, or dramatically limit viewing time!

These commercials are skillfully designed to provoke a very simple, visceral and emotional response. Of course, so many of us truly want the holidays to be special, and it is easy to process the media messages from retailers and their marketing messages to help us define that "special". However, with so many of us cutting back this holiday season, we are better off turning away from the TV and turning to one another to craft that "special" message ourselves. With a tighter budget it will be all the more important to turn inward to focus on how we are going to define the holidays for our family, how we are going to help our kids decide what is "need" and what is "want" and how we are going to celebrate what is most important: enjoying the holidays with friends and family.

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