Marks & Spencer pips John Lewis in poll for best retail Christmas adverts, City Numbers research shows

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Winning M&S advertisement

Winning M&S advertisement

New research from City Numbers has revealed consumers rate Marks & Spencer as the best retailer for Christmas marketing campaigns, beating John Lewis into second place. The survey, which looked into consumer attitudes to Christmas marketing, put Aldi, in third place, followed by Tesco in fourth and Sainsbury’s in fifth.

However, nearly a third of consumers say Christmas brand marketing has no effect on them

The top 10 Christmas marketing and advertising campaigns by retailers according to consumers:

  1. Marks and Spencer
  2. John Lewis
  3. Aldi
  4. Tesco
  5. Sainsbury’s
  6. Debenhams
  7. Iceland
  8. Asda
  9. Lidl
  10. Boots

Craig Busst, managing director, City Numbers, said: “I’m surprised to see that John Lewis hasn’t come out on top here, especially considering the anticipation that now surrounds the unveiling of the store’s festive adverts every year. The recent excitement around its 2014 TV advert featuring Monty the penguin practically reached fever pitch.”

John Lewis continues to reign ahead of other department stores, such as Debenhams which came in sixth place in the overall list.

Busst said: “It’s interesting too that Aldi was the most popular supermarket, which surely highlights the ever increasing strength of its position in the market compared to the big four.”

When asked about the effect that Christmas brand marketing has, the most popular response was that it makes people feel good about the festive period (37%), followed by it being a signifier that the Christmas season has begun. Worryingly though for marketers, nearly a third said it has no effect whatsoever (32%).

Consumers were also asked what would improve Christmas marketing and advertising, and the message seems to be ‘less is more’; 30% – the most common answer – suggested that it could be improved by there being less of it. Other findings were that both personalisation and less of a focus on sales (both 22%) would improve campaigns in the eyes of consumers.

“For many people, Christmas brand campaigns evidently do have a positive effect. But there are a large number of consumers who perhaps feel that in the run-up to the festive period there is a saturation of Christmas promos, and could potentially alienate shoppers. These findings suggests that some brands maybe need to reassess their Christmas strategy for next year, especially if all they are doing is plugging products,” said Busst.

“Consumers wanting more personalisation is nothing new and is indicative of wider industry trends. However, at a time of year where we part with more cash than normal, it’s even more important that retailers get the messaging right and specific to the individual they are targeting.”

A number of big brands have launched their seasonal campaigns in the last few weeks, and the survey also sought to find out when the public start their Christmas shopping and preparations for the festive season. Nearly a quarter (23%) said they begin in November, but over a third (35%) leave it until December.

Busst said: “What makes timing a Christmas campaign difficult is that about a quarter of consumers start preparing and shopping for Christmas before November even. Retailers need to strike a fine balance between appealing to these early shoppers, potentially with targeted advertising, and not incurring the wrath of those who become irritable when Christmas marketing kicks in by running mass media campaigns too early.”