LONDON: Christmas shopping starts as early as October in the UK but consumers tire of it before the final rush in December, suggesting brands should deliver festive campaigns that are timely and responsive, two industry figures have argued.

Denise Funke and Frances Revel, both insight specialists at media agency OMD UK, said brands need to start their Christmas campaigns early and respond with new efforts when interest begins to wane.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, they debunked a number of myths around the Christmas shopping period, such as the widespread complaint that the festival has been commercialised.

Only around one third of Britons felt that way, and just 22% of the 4,000 that OMD talked to over a 12-week period even thought that Christmas was about religion.

Shopping cues are taken from the appearance of the first Christmas ads and related marketing, such as window displays and festive menus. At this point, some two thirds (65%) said they loved Christmas, but that figure fell ten percentage points over the next four weeks.

"Interesting would be the brand that chooses to support the consumer at this point, showcasing and sharing the magic of the holiday at a time when that initial euphoria wanes," the authors said.

Half of people had bought their main presents or majority of gifts before the end of November, but 37% still hadn't finished their shopping as Christmas week started.

There is in fact a significant time-window for brands to target shoppers, but it varies by category. The authors observed that, in the toy category, leading retailers were issuing Top Christmas Gifts lists in June in order to trigger hype in the playground before the summer holidays had even begun.

One of the most unexpected findings they reported was that Millennials were the most enthusiastic of all offline shoppers, and sociable with it: some 55% of 18–24s like to go Christmas gift shopping with others.

"For them, Christmas retail should be an event, an occasion, and something to talk about."

Data sourced from Admap