Unruly / About us / News / UK Consumers Looking to Advertisers to Lift Festive Spirits This Christmas

UK Consumers Looking to Advertisers to Lift Festive Spirits This Christmas

  • New study from Unruly and Tremor Video reveals consumer expectations and attitudes ahead of 2020 festive season 
  • Half of UK consumers plan to do all or most of Xmas shopping online this year 
  • Only a third think this year’s festive ads should reference COVID-19 

LONDON — October 21, 2020 — UK consumers are looking to advertisers to provide some much-needed festive cheer this Christmas time. That’s according to new research carried out by video advertising companies Unruly and Tremor Video, which looked at British consumers’ attitudes, emotions and buying behaviours ahead of this year’s festive season. 

The study takes a closer look at consumer interest and demand for the first festive season since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the UK. The research reveals how consumers are prioritising and planning their Xmas shopping experiences as the colder months approach. 

With a rise of COVID-19 cases increasing the likelihood that the UK will spend this year’s Xmas season in lockdown, Christmas spirits are a little low, with British consumers admitting they’re just as sad about this year’s upcoming festive celebrations as excited. With festive joy in such short supply, it’s no wonder then that when asked what kind of advertising they want to see from brands this Christmas, the vast majority were looking for some COVID-free positivity. 

Almost half said they wanted this year’s Xmas ads to make them feel happy (47%) and warm (44%), while almost a third (31%) wanted to feel nostalgic. A quarter said they wanted to feel inspired and 17% wanted to be amused. Only 15% wanted this year’s ads to make them feel informed, in stark contrast to when Unruly ran a similar study at the start of the pandemic in April (42%).  

Only a third thought this year’s festive ads should reference COVID-19.  

Other findings from the study include 

  • A quarter of Brits plan to do their Xmas shopping earlier than last year, with more than half planning to do the bulk of their buying in November; 
  • With many trying to save money this year, more than half (56%) of UK consumers are looking to take advantage of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals. Almost a fifth (18%) will do most of their Christmas shopping during the Black Friday weekend, while 18% admit they will spend more this year on Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals than last year; 
  • Half of UK consumers plan to do all or most of their Christmas shopping online this year; 
  • When asked how they felt about the upcoming festive season, 21% of British consumers admitted they were sad – the same percentage that also said they were excited. The most popular answer (29%), particularly with people over the age of 45, was ‘indifferent; 
  • 91% of consumers are planning to maintain or increase their Christmas spend in at least one category (gifts, food, travel, going out, alcohol, clothes). 

“We know many brands are still unsure how to approach Christmas advertising this year. Our research shows a third of people think ads should reference COVID, while just under half of respondents had no opinion either way,” said Rebecca Waring, Global VP of Insights at Unruly. 

Therefore, advertisers should not feel pressured to make a COVID-themed Christmas ad. They can refer to the pandemic explicitly, subtly, or not at all, depending on whether it makes sense for their brand and the story they are trying to tell. However, whatever subject matter you choose, taking a positive tone is crucial. However, any hint of sadness needs to be handled very lightly. People are seeking warmth, happiness, and nostalgia.”  

“Online shopping and TV consumption are on the rise this Christmas, and as these channels are increasingly embraced due to continued stay-at-home restrictions, advertisers should seize this opportunity to deliver highly-targeted, personalised ads across all screens, particularly CTV and mobile,added Alex Khan, Group MD, International at Unruly.


Unruly and Tremor Video, which are both owned by Tremor International, surveyed 833 UK consumers in October 2020 for this study. Audience sample used was nationally representative. 

To view the full study, please click here.