It's the Longest Holiday Shopping Season Ever. Can Brands Beat Music Fatigue?

Ho, ho, hold the festive tunes that are a source of dread for 23% of consumers

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year—already.

Some consumers bask in the nostalgia of the season and its well-loved carols and songs. But for others, it is a time of extra stress and discomfort, especially as we all navigate supply chain issues and fast-moving ecommerce changes.

As marketers, it’s crucial to keep this in mind when planning for the holiday season, and music selection can make all the difference between engagement and humbugs.

Earlier than ever before

Consumer mindset has shifted this year as the majority are planning their shopping around supply chain bottlenecks. Many folks are placing their orders earlier than previous years and after last year’s difficult holiday season, shoppers are ready to make this year special.

To capture this energy, consumers and brands are engaging early and often—which means festive tunes as they browse the aisles. For some, this is a wish come true, but for 23% of consumers, the sounds of the season are a source of dread. And while one logical conclusion a brand might make to avoid holiday fatigue would be to hold off on Jingle Bells in its advertising until late November, it’s hard to figure out how to cue the gift-giving vibes without the relentless holiday songs.

It’s time to face the music.

With so much holiday shopping taking place online and via social media platforms, music is key for advertising. Brands need more music for social media ads and ecommerce, and a greater variety for the longer shopping season, creating more opportunity for mistakes and consumer fatigue. Here’s what we can do about that:

Start with timing. It would be nice if the plan were as simple as avoiding using holiday music until after Thanksgiving to avoid wearing on consumers. However, the reality is stores, radio stations and other brands will have already started a relentless holiday playlist, and there isn’t much any individual brand can do about that.

By Christmas, many consumers won’t want to hear your ads anymore, even if you waited to use the edgy version of Jingle Bells until December. Start using the sounds of the season when it’s best for your brand—just hold off on the overplayed, recycled songs.

If a brand really wants to use the classics, it’s wise to do so early in the shopping season. As the holidays draw nearer, that brand could then switch to less traditional tracks if it has other productions planned.

Branch out. Some folks love the classics, while others love their favorite artists’ remakes. In order for a brand to stand out, they’re going to need to think outside the box. Be mindful of the message communicated by a song, as the brand image will be associated with the song’s meaning. Baby, It’s Cold Outside may have a cozy vibe, but the lyrics have not aged well and could turn off a significant portion of the intended audience.

Think about using other genres of music that still communicate warm feelings to the consumer. Your brand could accomplish the same marketing goals this season with instrumentals and nontraditional genres, such as electronic music, with sonic elements like strings and a sprinkle of bell-like timbres that harmonize with holiday feelings.

Consider what you’re communicating. It’s important to recognize the positive emotions holiday music can conjure and lean into them. At its best, the holiday music evokes feelings of nostalgia, cheer, gratitude and goodwill. What sounds and songs can suggest those same feelings without the risk of having been stuck in consumers’ heads since their last trip to the grocery store?

If your brand is looking for warm, fuzzy, bright and cheerful, try an upbeat, anthemic palette of sounds that evoke the season. Think chimes and vocal harmonies paired with mid-range and lower registers.

A brand emphasizing tradition, legacy or family could utilize classic instruments, simpler arrangements and folksy vibes. Acoustic instruments, for example, can suggest feelings of peace, tenderness, love and giving. The possibilities are endless.

Brands can tune into specific sounds, qualities and styles to make new tracks fit into the holiday spirit, or to breathe new life into old songs. It’s worth a bit of extra effort to find a good holiday sonic branding strategy and quality music to back even simple social campaigns. The extra care won’t go unnoticed by the consumers.

After a tumultuous couple of years, consumers and advertisers alike are ready for something different and better. A brand’s music strategy has the power to be that game-changer.