Marketing at Christmas: what consumers really want this year.

‘Twas now just 3 months before Christmas…


It’s a word that strikes fear and joy into the hearts of marketeers and brand managers in equal measure. Yet with news of inflationary pressures easing in the Netherlands, many retailers are hoping for a more joyful end to the year.

The problem for the High Street is that just under a quarter (24%) of all Dutch consumers state that they are going to try and avoid shopping in person over the Christmas period with the same number (24%) planning on buying more of their gifts online. On the surface, this all sounds like good news for online retailers, but uncertainty over income remains rife with nearly a third (31%) stating that they are worried about their finances over Christmas with a similar number (36%) aiming to spend less on gifts this year. Aims and reality are of course two very different things, but with a third of the population (32%) intending to start Christmas shopping earlier than they usually do, Dutch retailers may have to brace themselves for a bumper Black Friday.

Across the water, these trends are intensified amongst UK consumers. The uncertain economic outlook and the rise, once again, of Covid has meant that nearly two in five (37%) are concerned about their finances whilst one in five (18%) are worried about endangering the health of their friends and family over the festive period. Silent nights (and days) may therefore be on the horizon for High Street retailers with UK consumers aiming to reduce their spend on gifts this Christmas (41%), avoid shopping in person as much as possible (35%) and buy more gifts online (31%).

Silent nights (and days) for retailers?

There are, however, some glimmers of hope.

In both the Netherlands and the UK more than two in five consumers state that they are aiming to shop locally over the festive period (42% vs. 43%). For nearly two-thirds of Dutch consumers (62%) this means buying from independent retailers in their area. For the majority of consumers in the UK, however, this means visiting the high street in their local area (57%). 

With the plight of small businesses gaining increasing coverage across Europe however, local does not equate with physical proximity. Of those who plan to shop locally in the UK, two-fifths (40%) say they are planning to support independent businesses via online purchases compared to just under a third (28%) of Dutch adults.

Frosty the brand land

So what do people want to see from brands over Christmas?

With consumers in the Netherlands feeling the squeeze, it’s unsurprising that the Dutch want to see communications featuring discounts and offers above anything else (34%). Content which focuses on traditional Christmas associations such as embracing the Christmas spirit (30%), reconnecting with friends and family (26%) and showcasing traditional values (24%) is also set to be well received.

There are, however, stark differences in Christimas content preferences by age. Amongst Dutch consumers aged 18-34, communications featuring products and services, real-life stories and celebrating getting through lockdown have a much stronger appeal than amongst the older age groups.

One final thought

In the past few years people across the Netherlands and the UK have undergone huge changes to the way they interact with each other and brands, yet over the course of our research we’ve found consumers to be resilient and resourceful. As Europe braces itself for Winter, it is now the turn for organisations and companies to also show resolve and innovation – especially at Christmas.

If you’d like to make sure that your advertising and communications strikes the right tone and conveys the right messages, get in touch to find out about our advertising optimisation tool at

Opinium surveyed 2,000 UK adults and 2,000 Dutch adults nationally representative of each population respectively. The research was carried out between 29th of September and 3rd October 2023 via an online survey.

Written by Emily Dickinson, Head of Opinium Amsterdam