Malick Ba

The Relationship Between Consumerism and Christmas

November 22, 2016

The day after Halloween, I woke up and decided to grab a coffee from my local Starbucks and noticed a subtle difference in their menu. What seemed like overnight, they switched their classic fall feature beverage-the pumpkin spice latte- with holiday inspired drinks and cups. I love the holidays, but I ask this question every year: why so early? Why November? Can’t businesses wait until December before their Christmas promotions roll out? While it was a small change, ultimately it got me thinking about Christmas time, huge dinners, and most importantly: buying gifts.

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I feel like Christmas is a special time-a time for sharing, peace, and prosperity. While big businesses like Starbucks look like they are trying to get you into the Christmas spirit, the point of their promotions is all positioning. In the advertising & marketing world, positioning is a term that describes the consumers understanding of a brand from their point of view. The strategy in positioning at Christmas time shows that by promoting early and getting consumers into the Christmas mindset, when it comes down to finding the best sale, or product to buy, chances are they’ll remember the stores that were hitting them back in early November.

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There is no doubt that Christmas is a huge time for business-arguably the biggest and most important time of year for sales. My experience at Starbucks really shows that massive corporations are always looking to capitalize at this time of year for as long as possible. Think about it: November 1st hits and its out with Halloween and in with Christmas in an instant. It’s not just Starbucks either. Visit your local mall and I guarantee that the Christmas “theme” is in full effect. It’s hard to argue that consumerism is a massive part of Christmas time. What the most successful businesses like Starbucks, Best Buy, or Apple (just to give a few examples) have done year after year is paired Christmas time with spending money in the mind of the consumer. From my perspective, visiting malls or electronics stores scouting for the best deals has almost become more of a tradition for me than what the holidays are actually supposed to be about.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays but when I can’t even finish my pumpkin spice latte before the Starbucks barista puts on a holiday outfit, maybe it’s a bit too early. I understand that the idea of positioning is to get me in the mood for Christmas which means spending more money, but it’s the same thing every year. The concept of materialism will always exist at Christmas time, but maybe it’s time to dial things back a bit and focus on what the holidays are really about: spending time with your family’s and not just spending money. Oh, and whoever said it was the most wonderful time of the year clearly hasn’t spent 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot at the mall…

Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications with a minor in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in Toronto and is looking forward to how he can leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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