Did ‘Santa’ Arrive Early Enough For Radio?


With Christmas now 10 days away, some naysayers out there may be ready to stomach Carnie & Wendy Wilson’s “Hey Santa!” or even Madonna’s rendition of “Santa Baby” as part of a regular rotation of holiday favorites that may have hijacked your market’s Soccer Moms n’ More top FM signal as early as Veterans Day.

According to Nielsen, that may not be too soon for holiday favorites. In fact, sales and marketing pros — along with the C-Suite — may wish to start holiday promotions and Christmas-themed advertising as early as Labor Day.

A recent Nielsen Insights blog post reveals that Black Friday and Cyber Monday may not be great times to go full-throttle with holiday marketing, and Christmas-themed consumer connectivity.

That’s because your station would be behind the curve.

While some 4 in 10 consumers believe the holiday season starts on Thanksgiving, “the holidays have been creeping up on shoppers months ahead of Turkey Day in recent years,” Nielsen says.

In fact, Nielsen Sample Store Auditing data show holiday in-store promotions started as early as September 14 in 2015.

Consumers have reacted, and they are starting their holiday preparations earlier than you may think.

As of early September 2016, 24% of consumers had already started shopping for friends and loved ones, compared with 23% in 2015, and 22% in 2014.

Two groups in particular are leading the charge to get started on their naughty and nice shopping lists, Nielsen says.

Guess what? One of these two groups are Millennials.

Now we’ve got your attention, right?

The other group of early-jump holiday shoppers happen to be those with many on their gift-giving list, regardless of age.

That’s nice, but let’s get back to the “m-word.” Nielsen data find 30% of millennials had started their shopping in early September.

By comparison, just 16% of the Greatest Generation began their holiday shopping so early.

As the RBR + TVBR Editorial Palace boasts a menorah in the left window and a Christmas tree in the right window, we are well aware that Chanukkah this year falls on Christmas Eve, and isn’t ridiculous early as in 2013, when it started on or about Thanksgiving.

This statistic could point to several things. One, it could suggest that millennials simply want to get their shopping done and over with. Second, it could mean that millennials spend more time thinking about gifts, planning for the holidays, and simply wish to get in the holiday spirit earlier than other consumer groups.

What is for sure is that your station, if it has millennial-targeted programming, needs to start your holiday-themed advertising and promotion in the first week of September.

Gather the AEs and GSMs. Get the GM and the Digital PD into that conference room meeting. Then, start mapping out the 2017 holiday season advertising plan.

Do this right after the 2016 holiday party, which could have been last night.

Media buying and planning for 2017 starts very soon, and it is incumbent upon C-Suite executives to understand that the holiday bump can boost both Q3 and Q4 revenue results.

Marketers are starting to see this. Now, radio executives need to understand this.


For early shoppers looking to get in the holiday mood, all-Christmas programming certainly has its importance. According to BDSradio, Christian AC WAKW-FM “Star 93.3” in Cincinnati was the first station to make the switch to all-holiday music this year. It ushered in the Christmas season with the Ray Conniff tune “Ring Christmas Bells” — on Nov. 2.

On Nov. 18, Cumulus Media‘s crosstown Adult Contemporary WRRM-FM “Warm 98.5” made the shift to all-Christmas programming through the holiday season.

That’s not too soon, as Nielsen notes that as of Nov. 23, only 65% of consumers reported having started their shopping.

But those millennials did, and retailers, manufacturers and marketers will likely respond by aligning their strategies to ensure they are reaching shoppers before, as well as during, the holiday season.

Radio should be front and center at the discussion table.