Youth marketing

How to win over Gen Z loyalty this festive season: Your campaign guide to Christmas marketing 2024

A group of Gen Z people at a Christmas party.
Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
June 17, 2024
Last updated
June 17, 2024

What this article covers

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In 60 seconds...

  • A great Christmas marketing campaign can provide brands with multiple opportunities, from increased brand awareness to securing Gen Z loyalty
  • 23% of Gen Z in the US are doing their Christmas shopping all year round
  • Young people across the US and UK prefer to see festive marketing on a brand’s social media page

The sun is out, the beer gardens are full, the Olympics are on the horizon. 

So what better time to talk abut the most wonderful time of the year? 

Look, we know it’s early. But with 35% of UK Gen Zers and 38% in the US planning to start their Christmas shopping in November this year and 23% in the US are doing their Christmas shopping all year round (round of applause for these incredibly organized individuals, please), there’s no time to waste. 

This year, 89% of Gen Zers from the UK and 83% from the US plan to buy Christmas gifts for friends and family. 45% in the US will be treating themselves during the holiday season. 71% will be splashing out on friends. It’s time to get thinking, people. 

In this blog, we’ll be sharing how you can win over your target audience’s loyalty this festive season, diving into the data, and analyzing best Christmas campaigns for Gen Z from 2023. 

The power of a good Christmas campaign

We’ve all seen some unforgettable Christmas marketing campaigns in our time - ones that have stuck with us our entire lives (the John Lewis 2011 The Long Wait has a special place in our hearts). A great Christmas marketing campaign can provide brands with multiple opportunities, from increased brand awareness to Gen Z loyalty well surpassing the festive season. 

But what’s the secret to tapping into Gen Z's emotions and strengthening the connection between brands and audiences? Particularly when you’re competing with the likes of Coca-Cola for their attention?!

What Christmas marketing does Gen Z want to see in 2024?

First thing’s first: what kind of marketing do Gen Z actually want to see this year? What vibes are catching their attention? 

Do they want nostalgia? Something social impact led? Perhaps something that gets them thinking…? 

We asked Gen Z: What kind of festive marketing do you want to see this year? 

2023 Christmas campaign countdown 

ASDA - Make this Christmas Incredibublé

“I can’t believe i just gasped at an Asda advert”. 

This young person spoke for the whole internet when we tuned into Asda’s Christmas ad last year. Because who did we see, but the King of Christmas: Michael Bublé.

The Canadian crooner came out of hibernation early last year for this big-budget piece, wowing audiences across the globe. Everyone thought it was impossible for Asda to beat their 2022 ad (featuring Will Ferrell’s Elf character)... everyone was proved wrong. 

Shot by Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi (already an icon amongst Gen Z), the short film starred Bublé as Asda’s new Chief Quality Officer, sampling the new Christmas range and offering a helping hand.

Whilst this ad set a VERY high bar in terms of guest stars and budget, the key takeaway is this: Gen Z loves a classic Christmas. 

Amazon - Joy is Shared

It’s hard to warm up to the Amazon brand; the international (and inescapable) ecommerce company is often frowned upon for various sociopolitical reasons. But, in 2023, Amazon managed to warm the cockles of our hearts. Nostalgia at its finest. 

As discussed in our Youth Trends Report, Gen Z is obsessed with the sentiment of nostalgia. It’s taking over their identities, their hobbies… even their purchasing habits.

Gen Zers are growing up in a scary world: a climate crisis, wars, the perils of social media. To counter this, they’re turning back the clock and craving the comfort of their childhood Christmases. 

Joy is Shared is an ode to friendships and childhood memories, and it perfectly captures the magic of the festive season. 

To quote one Gen Zer on TikTok: ‘Why did this make me cry’. And that’s what this generation wants. Comfort, and a bloody good cry. 

JD Sports - The Bag for Life

When thinking about British youth culture, what comes to mind? 

In 2004, it was Tamagotchis. In 2024, it’s Elf bars. 

Rewind 10 years, and it was probably the JD duffle bag. And now: well, they’re back, baby.

Last year, JD’s Christmas ad honored the simpler things in life (a wise move amidst a cost-of-living crisis) by celebrating 25 years of their iconic duffel bag. 

The ad, featuring famous Gen Z faces including Central Cee, Cat Burns, Chunkz, and Ella Toone, celebrates multicultural young Britain with its back-to-basics campaign, featuring relatable, authentic scenes. 

Sports Direct - Dream Big It’s Christmas 

Dream big and smash stereotypes was Sports Directs’ theme last year, and hell, did they smash it. 

Dream Big It’s Christmas follows an 11-year-old girl who dreams of taking on (and beating) her favorite athletes, from boxer Conor Benn to England striker Alessia Russo. Incorporating key brand partners Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, the campaign positioned the retailer as a leading voice in tackling misrepresentation in women’s football. 

Great tunes, iconic faces, and doing good?! Nailed it.

John Lewis - Snapper: The Perfect Tree

A moment for the most disappointing ad of the 2023 Christmas season… John Lewis. 

Once a true sign of Christmas, John Lewis was behind some of the most iconic festive moments of recent memory, from Man on the Moon to The Boy & the Piano. But last year, they let the nation down. 

Disheartened young people took to social media (where many were live reacting to the ad, and so could stream their upset in real time on the internet), calling it ‘ridiculous’, and saying they felt ‘disappointed’. 

Perhaps partly to do with the formulaic approach to the ad, or the impossibly high standard they set for themselves, John Lewis’ ad didn’t land as it has in the past. The ad was undeniably sweet and wholesome, but across the UK, not a tear was shed. 

When should I start my Christmas marketing?

Gen Z spends a lot of time online, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that young people across the US and UK prefer to see festive marketing on a brand’s social media page. Somewhere they’re already spending their time; those ads-that-don’t-look-like-ads. 

Perhaps surprisingly, 7% want to see postal ads. Retro. 

Knowing where Gen Z wants to see their festive marketing will help brands tweak campaigns and perfect their targeting: understand the market, connect with the shopper!

We asked Gen Z: Where do you prefer to see marketing during the festive season?

Want to know more about how you can supercharge your holiday marketing strategy? We can help. At Pion, our ability to connect with Gen Z is unrivaled. We’re experts in Gen Z and youth marketing, and by combining research, ads, influencers, experiential marketing, and more, we create content that strikes a chord with Gen Z, whatever the brief. 

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our Weekly Briefing for more Gen Z news, trends, and festive fun.

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