Brands on the beach: marketers use experiential events to target UK consumers holidaying at home

LONDON - A weak pound, the shadow of the global recession and the promise of a sultry British summer has led many Britons to swap their trips abroad for a holiday at home.

This year is therefore set to be the year of the ‘staycation' and is providing a wealth of opportunities for brands as diverse as Volkswagen and Sony to target consumers heading to beaches, summer festivals and sporting events instead of abroad.

Visit Britain reported earlier this year that one in five people - equating to 5m Britons - who holidayed overseas last year were considering taking a break at home instead this year. A survey of 4,000 people commissioned by insurance firm Legal and General also discovered that three in five people were changing their holiday plans from last year, with about 20% of these opting for a staycation.

Backing this up, a survey of 1,000 people for media planning company The7stars revealed that 37% of respondents were more likely to holiday in the UK this year compared with last year; 53% said they intended to spend less on holidays.

As a result, there is a raft of opportunities for marketers to target both those consumers staying at home and taking day trips (the official definition of a staycation) as well as those swapping their overseas holiday for a UK break.

Iris Experience's global business development director Cameron Day says that the trend toward the staycation has been a key factor for brands planning their summer activity. ‘Usually in August, for example, brands expect many consumers to be out of the country, whereas this year those consumers will be in the UK travelling around, so marketers can plan their activity accordingly.' One of its clients, Sony Vio, for example, has ditched airport activity in favour of other locations; Kellogg has boosted its sampling activity and is taking public parks.

Volkswagen, meanwhile, is specifically targeting staycationers as part of its Escape campaign to promote its camper vans. It has taken its experiential activity, created by Iris, to events such as the Gold Coast Ocean Festival in Devon at the end of June and to the Cornwall Holiday Beach Hop on 18 and 19 July.

Outdoor advertising companies have been quick to put together packages catering for marketers aiming to reach staycationers. Poster company Titan Outdoor has unveiled nine packages for marketers targeting festival goers, sports fans, seaside visitors and those promoting summer-related cosmetics and toiletries. ‘While summer-related brands can capitalise on targeting consumers at these locations, all brands have the opportunity to reach a lot of people who will be spending time outside,' says Titan's marketing director Steve Cox.

However, Will Phipps, head of planning at The7stars, says marketers should be wary of placing too much emphasis on targeting people in places where they are trying to relax. ‘When people are in recharge mode they tend to avoid brand messages,' he says. ‘It is better to target them when they are in the planning stages rather than when on holiday.'

Nonetheless, with more people staying in the UK and soaking up the summer sunshine, those brands that can create activity that engages their target audience, wherever they may be found, and add to their enjoyment of their break, are likely to reap the benefits.



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