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Now it’s Target’s Turn to Market Christmas in September

In this article:

  • Target’s email marketing is beginning to look a lot like Christmas (It’s September, yeah?)
  • But they are not doing it for no reason

Last year, retailers urged customers to begin their holiday shopping earlier than normal to make it possible to spread things out in the name of pandemic safety and allowing for delivery times. As we saw in Holiday Season Arrives Early for Data-Driven Marketing, the plans were already set in place for an earlier kickoff to holiday shopping.

As many shoppers were still leery of browsing in stores, retailers were reaching out to them digitally and wanted to have sufficient time to get, deliver, and replenish stock before the real holiday crunch. Stores that were open in person also wanted to limit the crowding that typically occurs when bargain-hunters show up all together for Q4’s super sales like black Friday.

The question is: was last year’s earlier rollout an exception or a precedent? Judging from Target’s email I received back on September 9th, retailers may set the bar even higher in terms of early “holiday” shopping this year.

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This was just the Thursday after Labor Day. Whereas in the past, Thanksgiving and then Halloween were the markers that set the dates for when holiday marketing could begin in earnest. Now it’s been supplanted by a much earlier event –the end of summer and back-to-school marketing.

But, there’s some very strong logic behind this move. As we explained a couple of weeks ago on “Why It Could Potentially Be Brilliant To Sell Out Your Halloween Inventory in August: One thing smart marketing teams should seriously look into is how they can start alluring these “holiday shoppers” earlier – then use the leeway to treat them with the best, most personalized, effective, and scalable Customer Relationship messaging and campaigns they can. So that when the holidays do come around, these early-bird cohorts would be worth more, instead of less.

That article also predicted the Target early-bird move, saying how “The Home Depot may have stumbled into it […] and so could Walmart and Target.”

Anyhow, back to Target’s email – clicking on the “Everything Christmas” link delivers you to a holiday landing page already decked out for the holidays with a wide array of decor options for inside, outside, and for kids. At the bottom of the page, we are informed that this is not a drill:

“The holiday countdown has begun. It’s time to create your holiday shopping checklist and we’ve got your back. From the must-have Christmas tree to a delicious chocolate advent calendar. At Target, find everything Christmas and much more.”

While Target did not put out a statement about moving its holiday marketing earlier this year, it did put out an article on its corporates page that did drop hints about its strategy back on September 1. In Peek Behind the Scenes at How Target’s Prepping Our Supply Chain to Deliver Holiday Joy All Season Long, it explains that an early start is necessary to assure customers get their holiday items due to “unprecedented supply chain challenges.”

But, then again, there’s a CRM data play here that we hope these brands are planning on making the most of.

Still, the brand’s related recent communication language keeps focusing on other reasons for the move – such as the need to rise to the challenge of large demand volumes, saying “this year, our teams planned even further ahead to ensure we can deliver for our guests through the holidays.”

So it is part of Target’s strategy to make its marketing look a lot like Christmas already in early September? Who knows maybe next year, it won’t be Labor Day but July 4 that marks the threshold, and Christmas in July will FINALLY become the reality.

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