Emily Palmer talks last minute preparations for the festive season
As it is normally the busiest time in the retail calendar, planning for Christmas tends to start happening almost a year in advance, but a lot can happen in 12 months and plans for the busy period can change for any number of reasons. Emily Palmer, Marketing Manager at CBRE, talks last minute preparations.
When does the Christmas hype campaign generally start?
We start thinking about the Christmas campaign for the next year, following the launch event each year. We analyse which aspects worked well and evaluate how we can improve the campaign year-on-year. Our first agency planning meeting takes place in July, however we generally have a theme in mind by May, when we have a better idea of themes and what is on trend.
Do you have a set strategy of what’s going to happen when?
As the Christmas campaign incorporates both the launch event, held in November, and Black Friday before the month-long lead up to the big day throughout December, it seems to get longer and longer each year. To avoid any repetition we devise a weekly strategy of objectives, focusing on products, brands, retailers, community, carpark, charity and family events. This helps us appeal to a broad variety of consumers throughout our catchment , providing something for everyone
Are there any details and plans generally left last minute/closer to the event?
There is always an element of last minute planning as many retailers don’t confirm their plans until later in the year. This means that they’re able to better respond to the most relevant and up-to-date trends across the industry. However, the majority of detail has been confirmed well in advance in order for us to plan the most appealing and exciting campaign. We’re also always keen to book community acts as these are sometimes the best received and this is something that tends to happen closer to the event itself. The process certainly keeps us on our toes!
What work are you doing with retailers at this stage to co-ordinate and prepare plans for the Christmas period?
In early October each year, we host a Christmas workshop for all our tenants. This helps us to involve everyone in the planning process and ensure that we’re all up-to-date. We always welcome feedback from retailers and really value the collaborative relationship we work hard to maintain
Are there any additional measures you are getting set up to cope with the increased number of visitors?
All staff attend a briefing workshop to ensure everyone is fully up-to-date with all planned activity. The launch event is always a real highlight, it’s all hands to the deck and it’s great to have the support of the full team who all love to be involved in the celebrations. We increase the range of services offered by the customer services team, located in a dedicated customer lounge suite, to provide season activity such as gift wrapping. In the build-up to Christmas and during key event activity, the centre extends it opening hours, employs additional members of staff and security to make the shopping experience as seamless as possible.
What are the most exciting things you have planned for this Christmas period? Do you have a set theme/concept/vision in mind?
We are going back to our roots this year with a traditional angle. The concept celebrates that ultimately we’re all big kids at heart, spotlighting the importance of shared experiences, making memories and providing an opportunity to really celebrate the festive period. There will be giant toys, games and a magical feeling amongst other exciting initiatives to be revealed in due course. Shoppers are getting increasingly savvy on preparing for Christmas, so it is important we respond to that trend by not only thinking about a campaign message that resonates with existing and target customers, but also think about how that comes to life in our centre through exciting, varying experiences.
How are the preparations going at this stage in comparison to last year?
We are progressing really well and are pretty much there having already signed off the creative and booked the media. We’re currently in the process of booking the final acts and entertainment, so it is all go!
And finally, is it too early to be thinking about Christmas 2020?
Never, we are always looking at other schemes and trends, being creative is one of the best parts of the job! We’re always looking for new, exciting and innovative ways to stand out, delight our customers and make an impact