Christmas too commercial for Kiwis

By Wright Communications

Colmar Brunton's annual Christmas survey revealed that 59% of New Zealanders believe Christmas is too commercial as opposed to the 41% who think the Christmas spirit is alive and well. Christmas shopping also makes it into the five things Kiwis like least about the holiday season.

Colmar Brunton CEO Jacqueline Farman believes the findings are the result of Kiwi consumers feeling bombarded with straight sales-driven messages that fail to capture the true Christmas spirit.

"The public are telling us is that they have a very clear view of what Christmas is about and that's what advertisers need to connect with to engage consumers," Ms Farman says.

More than 9 out of 10 New Zealanders (94%) say Christmas is all about family and friends, with 85% saying giving is more important than receiving and 76% rating it the best time of the year for them.

She believes UK company John Lewis sets the global standard for Christmas advertising.

"John Lewis has a history of highlighting really important issues and challenging aspects of Christmas in a beautiful way. Their Christmas advertisement is an annual event eagerly anticipated by the public every year.

"Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to stand out from the crowd at a special and emotional time of the year and do something different. To move away from purely sales based advertising, and connect with the heartstrings. I would love to see advertisers here take up that challenge."

Despite being bombarded with what they consider overly commercial messages, the average Kiwi will buy presents for about eight people this year, with females likely to buy for around nine people and males closer to six. A quarter of this country's consumers will splash out on many more presents - buying between 11 and 30 gifts this Christmas.

"That raises the question of affordability. We found 14% are already resigned to spending more than they could afford this year but the reality could be far more Kiwi consumers overspending," Ms Farman says.

While 45% say they are highly unlikely to spend more than they can afford, 41% wavered between likely and unlikely, suggesting overspending is a distinct possibility for many of them.

"Clearly New Zealanders are motivated doing whatever it takes to put smiles on the kids' faces on Christmas morning with two thirds of those likely to overspend saying they will probably do so on presents for their children."

And if the pre-Christmas commercialism is turning off this country's consumers then Boxing Day sales get an even bigger thumbs down.

Just 21% say they intend to brave the Boxing Day sales with 58% keen to give them a wide berth. However retailers will be banking on the 21% who are unsure to give them a bumper Boxing Day.

"Kiwis may say they will stay away but history tells us the tills will be ringing out on Boxing Day," Ms Farman says.

"What we can say is that any suggestion that more and more people will put off buying presents until Boxing Day appears to be a myth. Just 6% of Kiwis plan on doing that with everyone else aiming to have their presents bought, wrapped and under the tree before the big day.

As for holiday season as a whole the top five things New Zealanders are looking forward to are family get-togethers, food, catching up with friends, having fun in the sun and not having to work.

The top five things they are least looking forward to are overcrowding (at popular places), traffic, increased prices for holiday destinations and attractions, overspending and Christmas shopping.

A representative sample of 1000 New Zealanders was surveyed and the survey has a maximum margin of error of + or - 3.1%.


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