Christmas Special
December 20, 2017

Christmas Special – insight about the festive season

By Paul Laughlin

As Christmas draws closer, it’s time for a Christmas Special blog post. Like a double-length Radio Times, I hope these festive goodies will keep you entertained over the holiday.

Two thoughts have guided my selection of material to share with you this week. Firstly, after so much focus on specific themes (Data Visualisation, Stakeholders, GDPR & Data Quality) I aim to be broader. Following my definition of Holistic Customer Insight, I have sought holistic festive content. That is, data, analytics, research & database marketing-related material.

Secondly, I was looking for fun content. It’s too near to Christmas for me to take this blog too seriously. So, I hope you enjoy this menagerie of festive insight content. Following my own advice, from December 22nd until January 2nd, I will be taking a break from blogging. To recharge me and hopefully my creativity.

Without further ado, here is your collection of festive fun to end the year. Ho ho hope you enjoy it!

Latest data shows Christmas is coming earlier in the UK

You can normally rely on the BBC for some festive themed data stories and this year was no exception. In this post they share Google Trends data on online searches, making the case that the UK now exceeds even the Christmas-crazy USA. Plus, some gratuitous use of Christmas images, an interview with an excited child & the John Lewis advert. So, plenty of UK Christmas staples there.

Is the UK the most Christmas obsessed country?

The UK is the country where the character Ebenezer Scrooge was invented, the man who would scoff “bah humbug” at any Christmas revellers. But Brits are no Scrooges, according to Google. The search engine claims people in Britain make more Christmas searches than anywhere else in the world.

Spotify data used to build a Christmas Index for UK

It’s never a good idea to rely on just one data point, so I’m grateful to Gizmodo for this next festive post. As an alternative way to judge the growing “Christmassyness“of UK population, they used a bot to track Spotify data. Using 145 Christmas songs from a popular playlist, they used Spotify algorithm to track popularity. Then they simply charted increase in this index as the year progressed.

Apart from the amusingly realistic, “this day our computer crashed“, they track data from Oct 24th to Dec 5th. It is interesting to continued growth throughout the period, especially from start of November. Maybe we are starting earlier; listening to Christmas music while shopping online?

Not a great data visualisation, but reassuringly low tech & prompting how to think broadly about other data sources…

The Giz UK Xmas Index: Using Data To Measure How Christmassy Christmas Is

When does Christmas actually begin? Christmas purists might say the 25th December – the official first day of Christmas – but unless you’re a Piper piping, or one of a number of Maids-a-Milking, we know that’s bullshit.

But can analytics improve on past Christmas hits?

So, let’s move on to think about applying some analytics to all this available festive data. All that Spotify data, reminded me of hearing Peter Korcara share the Spotify case study at #CXC2017 this year. Given the impressive analytics they use in their recommendation engine, I was pleased to find this next post from Data Revolution.

The team there took up the challenge of improving on the best Christmas song ever. Personally, I would categorise their approach as Analytics rather than Data Science. But, it’s still fun. The thought of Daft Punk releasing the Christmas single they design is hilarious.

I particularly like their use of the need for interpretation/business application as the analogy for writing song. A nice example of how much a narrative can add to what are just individual results otherwise. See if you could do better with the optimal words output.

How to write a Christmas song using data science

Obviously, the best Christmas song ever written is Fairytale of New York. It contains despair, heartbreak and profanity, a bit like secret Santa gift giving at the office. However, as far as I know, Shane Macgowan wrote this without the help of analytics or machine learning algorithms, so I think I can probably do better.

A darker sci-fi Christmas Story for Data Scientists

Talking of the power of storytelling, I couldn’t resist sharing this post from Prof Lee Schlenker of Business Analytics Institute. It’s an ununsual style of festive story (futuristic rather than nostalgic), but the analogies for Data Science work well. Plus, a seasonal remind to all Dads to ‘read the instructions‘; though I never do.

With so much concern about both the value of Data Scientists & the threats of technology, enjoy this as a tale for our times…

The Present: A Data Science Christmas Story

Ularbek’s mind wandered as he began reviewing the specifications of this year’s Present.[i] His planet had been at war for over a century with their Rivals in a sister solar system less than ten thousand light years away.

Which is your Christmas Shopper persona?

Few things excite consumer researchers like the chance, to bring segmentations to life, via personas. As recommended previously, these can be richly evocative ways of ‘bringing to life‘ what is otherwise a theoretical exercise.

So, to continue our festive theme, and move on to our research community, here’s a post from The Drum. In this fun post, Adrianne Donoghue from Epiphany shares her personas of UK Christmas consumers. She uses a mixture of YouGov & Epiphany research to proposed 4 popular segments.

I think I’d be Saint Nick of Time, if my more sensible wife didn’t convert me to a Savvy Claus. Which are you? (Note, they don’t claim to cover the UK population & I wouldn’t take this seriously anyway).

How UK consumers shop at Christmas – and how to target them

The festive period is the most important time of the year for retailers, and one of the best ways to harness it is to better understand retail audiences and their customer journeys, both on and offline. UK consumers are a diverse lot, but there are plenty of ways you can get your business in front of the right people.

Sounds like Amazon won the Christmas ads this year

As well as Christmas songs, another popular UK obsession at this time of year is the best Christmas advert. Personally, I like the Aldi advert and the BBC animation (if that can be viewed as an advert).

But, this interesting report from Kantar Millward Brown’s annual research of brand marketing effectiveness, says Amazon won. Aside from being topical, they share 3 important marketing lessons for Christmas adverts. So, if you get roped into designing next years, bookmark this post…

Amazon’s Give Christmas ad is most impactful, finds Kantar Millward Brown’s annual consumer research

UK consumers have found Amazon’s Give to be this year’s most impactful Christmas advertisement, according to Kantar Millward Brown’s annual research into the effectiveness of festive ads. Consumers reviewed ads from 17 brands and retailers, scoring each on 12 factors that are proven to motivate people to buy, and build a strong brand in the long term.

You didn’t think you’d escape a festive infographic?

With such a focus on Data Visualisation blogs, tweeters & books this year (as well as award winners), I’ve got to end on a visualisation.

Just for fun, I’ve gone for a simplistic infographic, rather than a lesson in data visualisation principles. To sum up many of the other points we’ve learned already, here is a fun summary of UK christmas spending.

Thanks to Randy Krum for his regular sharing of good & bad infographics throughout the year. Let’s close this post by sharing one summarising the Economics of a UK Christmas:

The Economics of a UK Christmas – Cool Infographics

Do you have a budget for your christmas this year? The Economics of a UK Christmas infographic from Bridging Loans covers the spending for Christmas in the UK, and it continues to rise! The UK spends the most money on gifts, and more specifically on technology!

Enjoy your Christmas Special

Thanks for reading this latest edition of my annual foolishness. I hope it’s given you a laugh, or further stocked your festive feelings.

Do enjoy a well earned Christmas break from your Customer Insight Leadership responsibilities. Hope you can enjoy a wonderful time with friends and/or family. See you again in 2018!