M&S’ recent press announcement that it is to have a glitter-free Christmas this year, with glitter not featuring at all on its Christmas cards, wrap, tags, calendars and cracker selection has attracted the attention of the media in the last two days. The coverage, while providing extensive free publicity for the store chain, also subliminally promotes early Christmas card buying. And this piece of PR coincides with of an extensive largely positive report put out by BBC News online at the weekend entitled ‘Who buys Christmas cards in August?’.
M&S has come out with the news that it has removed glitter from its entire Christmas celebration range this year in a bid to improve recyclability and reduce the impact of microplastics on the environment.
Paul Willgoss, director of food technology at M&S, said: “We know reducing single-use plastics is as important to our customers as it is to our business, so removing glitter from our cards and wrap range will make it easier for them to celebrate Christmas in a more sustainable way. This is a step in the right direction as we continue working on our plans to completely remove glitter from the range next year.”
The move represents the first step towards M&S’ commitment of ensuring its entire year-round range of cards and gift wrapping products will be 100% glitter-free by the end of 2020.
Waitrose made a statement last December that it too is progressing to a glitter-free Christmas. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/waitrose-to-go-glitter-free-on-own-brand-cards-by-2020/)
To further encourage customers to recycle more, M&S has added clear back-of-product recycling instructions to its Christmas wrapping paper rolls with helpful tips, for example removing tape and any add-ons such as bows. The majority of its boxed cards have also transitioned from plastic to card packaging, saving almost 50 tonnes of plastic alone.
The announcement was received positively and shared by the press with The Telegraph being among those to play it straight. ‘Festivities are set to be less sparkly this year as glitter will not feature on M&S’s Christmas range. Instead, the store is embracing a sustainable season of cheer,’ was the line it took.
The BBC has also been banging the drum with some early festive cheer. On Saturday (31 August) it shared along piece, written by Greig Watson that delved into why Christmas cards are on sale so early and who buys them then. Although the article did include some comments from consumers who are adverse to displays of Christmas cards going out in the summer, the slant of the piece was more skewed to justifying why enabling people to buy their Christmas cards early is seen as a positive for many people. Greig had done his homework and included a whole list of facts and stats from the GCA showing the size and importance of Christmas cards in the UK.
Branding expert and retail consultant Lou Ellerton was quoted in the article sharing her views on the rationale behind the early marketing of Christmas cards.
“Firstly is to benefit us, the consumer,” she said. “It reminds us that Christmas is coming and puts us in the mindset to prepare. “For large families and those with stretched incomes, it will be a four-month journey to find the best value and get the most from every pound. But there is also a benefit to the retailers. Christmas is an incredibly important sales peak and it helps to get in early. This means we buy from them instead of competitors and reduces the chance of having to discount stock later on.”
The article includes comments from Stacey Burch, a single mother from Basford in Nottingham, who says that buying cards in August eases financial worries.
“Seeing Christmas cards in shops gets me excited and it makes me happy because I know I can start preparing for a time of year that is stressful financially,” she told the BBC. “I never leave Christmas shopping until the last minute. I’m constantly looking for bargains all year round. As a single mum of two children, if I didn’t do this I would struggle greatly. I think it’s nice people start Christmas earlier with decorations and the music and selling items. I would rather this feeling last a good few months than thinking this is all for one day and then back to normal.”
It also touches on the UK’s creative pre-eminence on the Christmas card front, justifying why tourist locations, such as the National Trust do so well with their early Christmas card selections as well as why it allows ex-pats to stock up early. Kate Goodger, who lives in Spain during the autumn and winter, said: “I find it very useful to stock up before I go.”
Jeremy Corner, md of Blue Eyed Sun was the only card publisher to be featured in the BBC report, acknowledging how people come to tourist outlets and shops like Harrods and Selfridges in the summer to buy for the following Christmas.
As he said: “I don’t think people should get too upset over seeing cards in the shops. I’m always in favour of putting a bit more love and care into the world.”
To see the full article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-49401332
Top: Marks and Spencer is having a glitter-free Christmas.