Will Kmart’s Early Jump on Christmas Work?

Discussion
Sep 12, 2013

For several years, retailers have sought to get an earlier and earlier jump on the competition with ads and promotions for the Christmas holiday selling season. Kmart has pushed the timeline even further this year with commercials promoting its holiday layaway program 105 days before Christmas.

The retailer, which has gained some attention in recent months for humorous spots including "Ship My Pants," employs a giant gingerbread man visual appearing out of the blue behind a woman in an office setting along with a voiceover that says, "Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you. Shop early with Kmart free layaway."

Last year, Target took some criticism for running its first holiday commercials early in October to let consumers know about its new price match policy that went into effect on November 1.

With its commercial, it appears as though Kmart may have put "Christmas Creep" on PEDs. A small number of people took to Kmart’s Facebook page to protest the promotion.

[Image: TV Commercial - Kmart - Free Christmas Layaway - Gingerbread Man - He's Watching You
]

Others, however, came to the chain’s defense. One woman wrote, "Some of us need early preparation for financial reasons and so we’re not caught up in the crazy holiday shopping season."

"There are limited budgets today, and retailers are aware of that," Kathy Grannis, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, told Advertising Age. "Consumers are spending wisely, so reminding them about layaway is smart. It’s not just about saying we’ve got great specials. It’s about helping them with their holiday budgets."

Are consumers paying attention or tuning out early commercials for the holiday season? What do you think of the Kmart spot?

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14 Comments on "Will Kmart’s Early Jump on Christmas Work?"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Consumers say that they hate seeing holiday adds before Halloween, but they pay attention to them. Kmart is pushing layaway. To be successful, they need to reach consumers early.

Yesterday I saw reindeer yard ornaments for sale at Costco, which was disconcerting. It’s too early for holiday merchandise and ads. But retailers won’t be doing this if the stuff didn’t sell.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
8 years 8 months ago

Each consumer has his/her own Christmas shopping clock.

We are saturated today with commercials on nearly every conceivable promotional offer, including Christmas layaways. Kmart is appealing to its more frugal consumers. For Kmart, that’s prudent.

Dick Seesel
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

The complaints get louder every year about retailers who start promoting Christmas even before Halloween. Kmart has them beat by almost seven weeks! The difference here—and why I think the idea behind the ad is effective—is the focus on layaway rather than seasonal merchandise. This has become one of the few competitive edges left for Kmart to offer its target customer, so putting a stake in the ground ahead of its layaway competitors makes sense.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
8 years 8 months ago
The holiday season isn’t about holidays anymore, it’s all about maniacal, mindless shopping. Holidays are retailing’s answer to the Bataan Death March – a soulless exercise calculated to separate the most people from the most money, as early as possible. Given that “holiday” marketers have been able to successfully lead the majority of the American public docilely down the commercial cattle chute to sacrifice hard-earned dollars they don’t really have on the altar of “deals” too good to be passed up – why not start the slaughter as early as possible? Because – underneath the mask of a grizzled cynic – I’m essentially an optimist, I keep thinking that moving December forward in the calendar will eventually upset enough shoppers that retailers will be forced to beat a hasty retreat until … oh, I don’t know … September. But, every year I continue to be disappointed. “Yes, Ryan, there is a Santa Claus. And, if you are a good boy you can see him on St. Patrick’s Day! P.S. Oh, since I’m not 10 years… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Nothing will ever help Kmart as this decision proves. Kathy Grannis chooses her words wisely in the article. However, if her description,”there are limited budgets today” is so, Christmas is far from anyone’s mind.

The ad, other than bad, is insulting.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Consumers today are watching for anything that will get their attention with the budget they have for the holidays. Kmart has grabbed the lead out of the starting gate even this early in the season. What makes it more interesting is the positive comments they are getting from TV talk shows. We can debate the early date; but Chanukah starts the night before Thanksgiving this year. I can’t remember it ever being this early. So maybe Kmart has grabbed something the others missed.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

There’s probably a segment of the population that will appreciate these ads, but the rest of us are creeped out. I’ve never before experienced Christmas ads during a 95-degree heat wave.

Mark Gardiner
Guest
Mark Gardiner
8 years 8 months ago

I was ready to be down on this, but the ad turned me. Nicely done, low key; I like that the worker wasn’t terrified at the sudden appearance of the gingerbread man (although a similar, real-life apparition would be scary) and the touch of his sugar icing button was just right. Layaway is a better option by far, for most Kmart customers, than buying on credit. Surprisingly, I’m on Kmart’s side on this one.

David Livingston
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Most commercials for anything are tuned out. As for Kmart, considering they have been Midas in reverse for years, I would expect this to be another failure for them. Not that the idea is bad, but just because Kmart doesn’t have any skill at retail.

Brian Kelly
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Layaway is credited for Kmart’s success the past couple holiday seasons. It can be assumed they learned something about their customer. A reminder for these folks makes sense.

Whether you read Charles Murray or PEW, you know the US is coming apart. Those folks for whom layaway is a needed retailer service are trying to stretch a HHI ~$60K, she is a single mom and holiday is a major event. She is busy and a reminder is relevant to her. Folks who decry these messages do so because they are not relevant to them. Field’s axiom still works: “Give the lady what she wants.” Keeping your customer’s needs in mind is crucial.
It’s why we say “retail ain’t for sissies.”

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Just how early is it? Maybe it isn’t 105 days before Xmas but 470 days (2014) or even 835 (2015)?

But whatever the details, no, I don’t think it’s going to “work” in the usual sense that people will rush out and begin shopping early. You might get a few (very organized) people who see something they like and say “why not?” but that could be true of any promotion. Obviously it depends on what Kmart is selling…which is admittedly the main problem, regardless of how many giant gingerbread men may appear.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
8 years 8 months ago

The creative for the Kmart is very good. Timing on when to promote the holiday is always an issue. In my opinion, layaway ads are fair game in early October because it give people time to set them up. This reminds me of the old bank programs for Holiday savings. Those ran all year.

I will say that in-store holiday decorations and holiday specific items should not be in store until early November. I was shocked and frankly disappointed to see that COSTCO had two full isles of holiday wrapping paper and toys in early August. Far too soon, in my opinion.

To be fare to COSTCO (I am a member and fan of the store) they are following the lead of members. If nothing holiday related sold in August and September, they would push back the date next year to October. That said, I saw plenty of carriages with wrapping paper.

Supply and demand. Retailers will follow a consumer’s lead.

Kate Blake
Guest
Kate Blake
8 years 8 months ago

Kmart and Sears have a brilliant ad agency making funny commercials that make you think. They will handle this well!

William Passodelis
Guest
8 years 8 months ago

Kmart has a small and needed competitive edge with their layaway service and in a LOT of places, times are tough, so layaway is very important to a segment of customers – especially where Kmart is considered. Kmart needs all the help they can get – they can start layaway at Memorial day, as far as I am concerned. A lot of people tune these ads out but some are closely listening. If Kmart can capture those customers, we might have Kmart around a little longer.

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