A golden arrow pointing up on a black background, symbolizing improved performance.

Even before recent events changed the face of retail on a global scale, changing consumer behaviour – including the rise of e-commerce – has made retail one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in B2C marketing.

In the face of strong headwinds, 2023’s Golden Quarter will be critical to the success of the nation’s retailers.

But what is the Golden Quarter?

The Golden Quarter is the busiest period in the retail and grocery calendar, and it starts exactly 100 days from Christmas – Saturday 16th September 2023.

With the right preparation and execution, retailers can take a large majority of their yearly profits through a positive Golden Quarter performance. It feels like Christmas ‘hits the stores’ earlier and earlier every year but there’s method to the madness.

In another of our blogs, we provide a 2023 Calendar with marketing content themes to drive sales throughout the year – check it out here.

But, in this blog, we specifically explore the opportunities and challenges marketers face in this pre-christmas period.


What are the stand out events in the Golden Quarter?


Halloween 2023.

Stand out on the doormat with these pop-throughs and sliders, which can be customised in size, shape and design to suit your campaign.

Rising steadily YoY from approx. £200m in 2013, 2021 Halloween spending in the UK sat at £600m, according to Finder.

Whilst it’s still too early for final 2022 sales figures, a Little-loans survey of 2,000 UK consumers showed that despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the average spend on Halloween celebrations was expected to be close to £100.

The findings showed that consumers are willing to spend the most money on events, such as parties, cinema screenings and horror nights, with spend predictions averaging £35.60 per person.

Second biggest in the Halloween spending list is costumes. On average consumers will spend £31.30 on their outfit, although one in five said they would either reuse, borrow, or not dress up at all in 2022.

Decorations were lowest on the list of expected spend, but still averaged £28.20.

With this in mind – Halloween presents a huge opportunity for retailers to drive Golden Quarter sales early on in 2023.


But how can retailers capitalise on this appetite for celebrating all things spooky?

Direct mail marketing provides the perfect way to share your scarily-good offers with customers.

All images, copy and offers can be personalised in colour, so whether it’s:

  • targeted recipes for tasty treats
  •  fancy dress ideas
  • ghoulish cocktail creations
  • frightening films

You can target your customers with relevant content and offers and make Halloween 2023 one to remember, and commercially prosperous too.



Bonfire Night – 5th November 2023.

Whilst a global pandemic turned celebrations in 2020 and 2021 into something of a damp squib, available data from 2018 showed that UK consumers were expected to spend £316m celebrating Guy Fawkes Night/ Bonfire Night.

Consider hats, gloves, scarves or other winter warmers – or pet calming products for our furry friends!


Diwali – 7th November – 12th November 2023.

Diwali is celebrated by 1.2 million people in the UK, and the five-day celebrations feature home decoration, shopping, fireworks, gifts, feasts and sweets, and finish on Sunday 12th November 2023.

UK retailers and grocers are waking up to the opportunity, with Tesco launching their first ever Diwali range in 2022, inspired by traditional sweets.


Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2023.

UK Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were worth an estimated £3.95 Billion in 2022, according to finder. Compared to 2021, this is a decrease of roughly £900 million – with consumers understandably tightening their belts, amidst the current cost-of-living crisis.

Despite the recorded fall in spend – Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer huge potential for brands and retailers to drive Golden Quarter revenues.

But winning big in across ‘Cyber Weekend’ isn’t without its challenges – here, we look at removing some of the hurdles brands can face, to put you on track for 2023.


Identify and Understanding Buying Intentions.

73% of UK adults intended to make a larger share of their 2022 Christmas gift purchases, over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, compared to 2021, according to Finder.

When looked at through a generational lens, the data showed that a huge 91% of Gen Z respondents did so, with Millennials following in second at 83% and Gen X in third place at 70%.

Bringing down the average significantly were Baby Boomers, with just 44% stating they would be using the ‘Cyber Weekend’ to bag more bargain gifts than in 2021.

Looking forward to 2023, brands that can discern individual buying intentions early on can tailor buyer journeys to make sure they serve relevant offers and products.

Here are some tips for achieving this:

  • Analyse purchase data from previous years to identify customers who bought but went ‘dormant’ for the rest of the year. You could send them a relevant, trackable, gift themed communication with a tempting offer, to see if they re-engage.
  • Analyse category purchase data from previous years to identify outlier or anomaly purchases. If a customer purchased in a category, without purchasing in it again – you could recommend similar or complimentary products, from within that category and stimulate a gift purchase.
  • Create and distribute gift buying guides and monitor engagement from your database
  • Create a new landing page for your homepage in the build up to Cyber Weekend, browsers can self-select and give you a clear indication of their intention by clicking on ‘Gifts for Him’, ‘Gifts for Her’ or ‘Gifts for Mum’ for example.

Understand buying intentions early on and provide helpful content that makes buying gifts a breeze – and you’ll be in great shape for 2023 success.


Drive online engagement with offline cut-through.

As brands clamour for Golden Quarter revenue, consumers face a barrage of email and digital marketing messages.

Black Friday is the busiest email day, with 116.5 million campaigns being sent according to Campaign Monitor.

If your customer has shown email as their preferred channel, you could take a ‘digital-first’ approach, and trigger mail automatically, if the initial email isn’t engaged with after a defined period.

A timely piece of direct mail, triggered by a browsing event in the build up to Cyber Weekend and landing on the doorstep before the big day(s) could cut through the noise and drive online engagement.

JIC Mail data shows addressed direct mail from Retailers and Mail Order brands is opened immediately 54% and 62% of the time respectively – increasing to 65% for items that clearly indicate a discount or offer on the outside.


Christmas 2023.

With the cost-of-living crisis in full effect and consumers cutting back significantly on spending, expect total retail sales for Christmas 2022 to fall by 3% YoY to £82.2bn – a decline of £2.51bn from 2021.

Looking forward to 2023, it is impossible to predict the state of things 12 months from now, but here we look at how a focus on three potential areas, could stand you in good stead to buck the trend next Christmas.

1. Contextual approaches to personalisation and targeting

2. Increased creativity and innovation in direct marketing

3. Empowering customers to self-select

Contextual Approaches to Personalisation and Targeting.

Delivering continued growth in the face of economic uncertainty requires a fresh approach to the use of data to deliver more refined targeting, and timely messaging that capitalises on a prospect or customers current situation.

One way you could apply this approach for Christmas 2023, is through contextual targeting.


University Student Households – A Very Merry Flatmas.

Many student houses will lie empty between Christmas Eve and New Year, with occupants back at the family home over the festive period.

But, in the weeks building up to the big day, thousands of UK students will enjoy festive celebrations with their housemates – and often, in typical student fashion – on a budget!

Consider this approach to acquisition targeting:

1. Create a dataset of UK multi-occupancy student rental houses and flats

2. A partially addressed mail-piece creatively designed to look like an invitation

e.g. It’s Time to Celebrate Together at No. 123 Sample Street

3. Overlay nearest store locations by drive time and personalise onto the mail-piece

4. Include relevant offers and products, such as:

Decorate your home for under £XX

– Secret Santa gift ideas for under £X, £YY or £ZZ

– Christmas cocktail and recipe generator for different dietary requirements

Christmas Dinner for X for under £Y per person

5. Create digital content to drive online engagement and encourage data capture:

o Secret Santa generator and wishlists
o   Allergies
o   Vegan dishes
o   Halal
o   Non-alcoholic alternatives

Don’t miss out on a massive revenue opportunity this Flatmas – Christmas could literally come early!


Home Movers.

Over 1.5m homes change hands in the UK every year.

This means the festive period presents a great opportunity, to target consumers spending their first Christmas, in their new home.

By identifying this key life stage event, using our unique and industry leading dataset, you can send timely communication congratulating the occupants on their new home, and offering relevant products, designed to help their first Christmas in their new home, their best yet.

Whether it’s Christmas on a budget, following the expenditure associated with a move, or a Christmas with all the trimmings as they host their family and friends, for the first time – being in the right place, at the right time, can deliver results.


New Parents / Baby’s First Christmas.

Research shows that Parents spend an average of £11,498 during the first year of a child’s life.

New parents also hold huge potential for financial services brands, or retailers who offer purchase on finance, as of those surveyed, 81% said that they had taken out or were likely to take out a credit card whilst pregnant or within 6 months of giving birth.

43% said that they had taken out or were likely to take out a loan whilst pregnant or within 6 months of giving birth.

With spending intention like this, ‘Baby’s first Christmas’ poses a big opportunity for brands.

The difficulty with capitalising on the opportunity, is being able to communicate with these audiences at the right time.

Identifying key life stage events through analysis of your existing data and through supplementary data sets, can transform your acquisition strategy for an unmatched return on investment


Identifying the Hosts.

Where we celebrate Christmas can often be a bone of contention.

But identifying creatures of habit within your database could unlock a big opportunity!

Whilst COVID might have thrown a spanner in the works, with most spending Christmas 2020 at home – looking at 2021 and 2022 purchase data, and then further back into history, could let you spot spending patterns that give you a hint, as to where Christmas will be held next year!

Customers that made high value, high item volume purchases in a cyclical pattern, could be hosting in 2023.

Why not send them a targeted communication, with an attractive discount offer, designed to stretch their spend above previous years?


Increased creativity and innovation in direct marketing.

Whether it’s targeted door drops, partially addressed mail, or a direct mail piece sent to your best customers – utilising print’s capability to be creative, will help you stand out on the doormat and make the most of the channel’s cut-through.

Here are some innovative format ideas, to help you on the path to Christmas success in 2023.


Pop-up Shapes.

Adding a Christmassy pop-up to your mailings instantly makes your message or offer impossible to miss.

Available in different shapes like

  • Stars
  • Baubles
  • Trees
  • Presents/Gift Boxes

with multiple pop ups used to add dimension to your piece, pop ups can also be used to draw attention to a card, voucher or coupon included in your mailing.


Advent Calendars.

Encourage interaction with your mailing by adding a hidden message, offer or contents, which are revealed when the recipients peel back a panel or perforated tab created with a double thickness panel.

An advent calendar would encourage your customers to open all windows to reveal what is behind them!

You could even drive customers to come back to your mailing daily, by running exclusive daily competitions or offers, with unique entry codes personalised behind each window that are input into your app, website or a dedicated microsite to reveal a prize or exclusive time sensitive offer.



Die Cut Shapes.

On a doormat full of rectangles, incorporating a shape into your mailings, like a Christmas stocking, is a simple yet extremely effective way of grabbing your readers attention.

Die-cut shapes can also feature inside your mailing, and be detached to encourage recipients to engage with your piece, and even retain it around the home.

For example, why not include:

A Christmas hanging decoration to add to this year’s festivities and ensure your message is seen a little longer around the home.
A pop out 3D Christmas tree or other ‘Build Your Own’ Shape

With so many opportunities across the Golden Quarter – it can be difficult to know where to start! Speak to one our experts by filling in the form below and we can look at improving marketing performance across your entire annual marketing plan!

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