October 31, 2023 | Aprimo Blog
Survey findings from Aprimo reveal that while 85% of Americans say the increase in holiday marketing content influences their purchasing decisions, 58% say it also increases their stress levels—and 31% have opted out of communications from brands that overdo it.
With generative AI fueling a boom in marketing content heading into the holiday season, and the holidays being the peak season for marketing content year in and year out, the Aprimo team surveyed consumers and found that many of them are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content they are exposed to—creating a double-edged sword for marketers.
How can marketers produce content that stands out from the crowd and drives sales during the holidays, while not going too far and producing a backlash of unsubscribes and bad reviews? We asked 1,000 U.S. adults to share their thoughts, experiences and preferences.
Americans feel deluged with marketing content during the holiday season, with 58% saying it adds to their stress levels.
While consumers are bombarded with marketing messages year-round, respondents said the volume goes up several notches during the holiday season.
When asked, “Do you notice an increase in marketing and advertising content during the holiday season compared to other times of the year?” 79% said they did, including 50% who said “significantly more” and 28% who said “somewhat more.”
When asked, “How much more marketing and advertising content would you estimate you consume during the holiday season, compared to other times of the year?” 68% said at least 50% more, with 22% saying “twice as much” or greater.
The sheer volume of holiday messages was striking. When asked, “How often are you exposed to holiday-themed marketing and advertising content during the holiday season?” nearly a third (32%) said “multiple times a day,” with another 27% answering “daily.” This compares to only 7% and 12%, respectively, who said they sought out content that frequently.
Industries viewed as producing the most marketing content were retail (59%), toys and games (43%), electronics (32%), and food and beverage (28%).
The increase in content takes a toll. When asked, “Does the increase in marketing and advertising content add to your stress level during the holiday season?” 58% answered in the affirmative, including 13% who called the rise in stress “significant.”
Nearly a third (31%) of consumers said they have unsubscribed from a brand’s communications due to excessive holiday marketing, and 15% have gone so far as to post a negative review of a brand online for this reason.
Stress is one reason consumers choose to unsubscribe from brand communications during the holiday season.
When asked, “Have you ever unsubscribed from a retailer or brand’s communications due to excessive holiday marketing?” 31% said yes. Of these respondents, 58% said they had unsubscribed from an email list, 43% from text messages, 22% from social media accounts, 21% from mobile apps, and 18% from direct mail lists.
When asked, “Have you ever left a negative review of a retailer or brand online because of excessive holiday marketing?” 15% said they had. Among those who had unsubscribed from a brand’s communications, the number who said they had left negative reviews of the brand as a result rose to 28%.
Despite their mixed feelings toward holiday content, 85% of consumers admit it influences their purchasing decisions—with nearly half (49%) saying they like content that focuses on promotions and discounts.
While consumers may dislike the excesses of holiday marketing, they concede that it does influence their purchasing decisions.
When asked, “How much does the holiday marketing and advertising content you consume influence your purchasing decisions?” 85% said this content has an influence, with 43% saying it “strongly” or “moderately” influences their decisions.
With holiday content proving a double-edged sword for marketers, which types of content are the best bet for increasing sales without turning customers off?
Holiday shoppers prefer deals and contests over sentimentality in marketing content, with content that “focuses on an enticing discount or offer” more than three times as likely to inspire respondents than content that seeks to “make an emotional connection.”
When asked what aspects of content they like the most, nearly half of respondents (49%) answered “promotions and discounts,” outranking “festive holiday themes” (42%), “nostalgic branding and throwback campaigns” (25%), and “holiday-themed contests” (20%).
Among content channels, consumers say they are most influenced by television advertising and social media—although they are wary of celebrity and influencer endorsements.
With consumers bombarded by content from all sides, which channels are most effective? Interestingly, one of the most traditional channels, TV commercials, scored best in the survey.
When asked, “Which marketing and advertising channels do you think are most effective in increasing sales during the holiday season?” 49% said “television commercials,” followed by 41% who answered “social media,” and 28% who answered “in-store displays.” Blogs (4%), digital newsletters (4%), and podcasts (8%) pulled up the rear.
Despite TV ads and social media topping the list of most effective channels, one of the most common tools of these channels—celebrity and influencer collaborations—did not do as well. When asked, “What aspects of holiday marketing and advertising content do you like the least?” 38% answered “celebrity and influencer endorsements”—far outpacing the No. 2 response, “innovative experiences like virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).”
Holiday marketing content affects brand perceptions—with consumers preferring brands that are consistent in their messaging.
While consumers expressed a preference for holiday content focused on deals rather than traditional brand marketing, many nevertheless said that holiday content impacted their perception of brands.
When asked, “Do you enjoy holiday-themed marketing and advertising content?” 59% of respondents said they either “like it” (30%) or “love it” (29%). Nearly half (49%) of respondents said they had “engaged with a holiday-themed marketing campaign, such as participating in a contest, taking advantage of a special promotion, or sharing user-generated content?”
When asked, “Does holiday marketing affect your perception of a brand?” 75% of consumers said it did, with 15% answering “definitely” and 32% “somewhat.” Among these respondents, 53% said that a “consistent holiday message” has a positive impact on their brand perceptions.
“The survey’s biggest takeaway is that people notice a huge surge in marketing content around the holidays, and this is a double-edged sword,” said Erik Huddleston, chief executive officer of Aprimo. “It drives people to find deals and make more purchases, but brands also run the risk of overdoing it and turning people off, leading to consumers unsubscribing from email lists or developing a negative impression of a brand.”
Huddleston concluded, “One way to reduce your risk as a holiday marketer is to focus on the content types your audiences respond to most—because while consumers may say they don’t want sentimentality in holiday content, the survey shows they do embrace traditional content formats. Brands that are consistent in their messaging have the best chance of breaking through the noise while not rubbing customers the wrong way.”
Aprimo used the third-party survey platform Pollfish to conduct an online retail customer experience survey of 1,000 U.S. adults on Oct. 6, 2023. Researchers reviewed all responses for quality control.
Sign up to receive our latest content on best practices, trends, tips, and more to elevate your content operations.