Why marketers should not disregard January

Phuong Nguyen, Director, eBay Advertising explains why January is not ‘dead’ time for brands after all.

Phuong Nguyen

Historically, many brands have seen January as “dead” time, when consumers around the country tighten their purse strings and withdraw from any non-sale, non-essential spending. And, as big-ticket Christmas campaigns become a distant memory, marketers frequently use the opportunity to take a step back.

But by assuming that January is a lost cause, advertisers may well be missing a trick. Our insights show that the beginning of the year offers rich opportunities to look beyond sales shoppers and tap into renewed consumer interest in three key areas.

The self-indulgent shoppers

For consumers who have spent the gifting season thinking about other people, the New Year is a natural time to turn their attention to themselves. In turn, this triggers a wave of self-indulgent shopping that brands should factor in when allocating ad spend.

Some want to seriously splash out; self-gifting women made more than 2,400 searches per day for “diamond ring” on eBay.co.uk in the first week of 2015. Others take a slightly more restrained approach to treating themselves; the second Sunday of the year saw more than 35 searches every hour for “champagne flutes” on the site as consumers chose fizz over fitness trends. 

From January blues to blue skies

For many shoppers, the cold, dark aftermath of Christmas inspires dreams of sunnier shores. Searches for “beach towel” on eBay.co.uk increased by a huge 72% in the first working week of the year, as people plotted their getaway from the “January blues,” while searches for “bikini” rose by 49% during the same period.

This is not just an opportunity for retail brands – travel insurance providers and airlines, for example have huge potential to tap into the communal wanderlust and engage with those booking or planning long-haul trips.

The practical purchasers 

The expensive Christmas shopping season also causes many shoppers to defer purchasing more practical items, such as white goods, until the following year in the hope of saving some pennies in the January sales. For example, searches for “washing machine” were up by almost a fifth in January 2015, compared with the previous month, meaning nimble homeware brands have an opportunity to steal a march on competitors before the year has even kicked off.

January may not wield the wallet-busting power of December to attract spending overall, but it can be hugely profitable for brands able to identify specific active shopper segments and engage them with the right messages.

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