Summer Slowdown? Grab your chance!

Summer slowdown? Not in the world of marketing. The summer is the perfect time for brands to put themselves in the spotlight. We discuss this topic with the head of strategy Han Roode and strategist Robbert van der Hulst, both from M2Media, and Sjef Kerkhofs, managing director of Daily Dialogues.

Increased time allocation
Is the summer holiday period a slow time and the wrong moment for a brand campaign? Think again! It is the ideal time for brands to bring themselves to the attention of their target group. Han Roode, Head of Strategy at M2Media, sits down with his clients every year to look ahead at the upcoming summer and determine how to make optimal use of this period. "During those months, there is relatively little change in how people use media. In fact, we often see an increased time allocation in terms of how many hours people spend reading and watching media. This is particularly the case for magazines and online media."

Peace of mind and rhythm
"During the summer months, many people are more receptive to what brands have to say," Roode continues. "The peace of mind they feel gives people more time to take things in. It is worth noting that this generally happens at a different time of day in the summer than in other seasons. When we have time off, we spend our days differently than if we have to work all day. When the temperature rises, people tend to switch on their TVs later in the evening."

M2Media strategist Robbert van der Hulst explains the figures that prove this: "On average, Dutch people still spend more than two hours per day watching TV during the summer. Although the viewing time drops by an average of 12% during the summer months, the weekly reach goes down by 6%, on average. In other words, people may spend less time watching TV during the summer, but they certainly don't ignore their goggleboxes altogether. They tend to switch on their TV later in the day after they return from their trip to the park, beach or zoo. This means you can still reach circa 80% of Dutch people in a week via TV."
The belief that everyone goes away on holiday around the same time is also wrong, Han Roode emphasises. "Generally speaking, circa 10% of Dutch people go on holiday at the same time, while the remaining 90% have to carry on working and can still easily be reached. On top of that, it is not like everyone spends their holiday in a remote cabin, completely cut off from the world. Many people prefer to stay in their own country and continue to watch the channels they know and love, even during their holiday. Furthermore, many people have an app on their mobile devices that they can use to watch TV. As long as they stay somewhere in Europe, they don't have to miss a thing."

Radio, Spotify, podcasts
Since not everyone goes away on holiday at the same time, many people still listen to the radio on the road, Van der Hulst knows. "On average, the time people spend listening to the radio only goes down by around 6% during the summer. The biggest change has to do with where people listen from; less at home and more at other locations such as the beach, the park and the campsite." That does not apply to e.g. Spotify or podcasts: "Spotify's reach hardly changes during the summer. Likewise, the season has little effect on the way people consume podcasts."
When it comes to social media, many people are even more active on their holiday than usual, Roode continues: "People tend to do more scrolling and swiping poolside than at work. Generally speaking, social media usage figures do not go down during the summer. In fact, there may even be more traffic than usual." Perhaps that should come as no surprise; after all, how can anyone resist the urge to immediately share their holiday pictures with everyone they know?

Targeting the campsite
Even after your target group has gone on holiday, you should still have no trouble reaching them: "As a brand, you can even target specific devices, such as phones, tablets or laptops. We can even help brands discover whether their target group is using a Wi-Fi connection from abroad and reach out to people directly at the campsite. This is ideal for e.g. news media, which are still used heavily even during the holiday period," says Roode.

In fact, the weekly reach for online news platforms actually increases a bit during the summer, media strategist Van der Hulst knows. "During their holiday, people have more time on their hands, while their interest in the latest news remains the same. DPG figures from 2021 show that 53% of Dutch people like to stay up to date on what is going on in the world during their holiday. A contributing factor is that it has become a whole lot easier for people to stay connected while they are away from home, ever since data used in the EU comes out of their existing mobile plan. Ninety-two per cent of people still use their smartphone while on holiday."

Content strategy for social media
Sjef Kerkhofs, Managing Director of Daily Dialogues, agrees that people spend even more time than usual on social media during the summer months. He adds: "Many brands scale back their activity during the summer, e.g. because their own people are away on holiday. Given how much time people spend on social media, there is much to be gained during this time. In other words, it is easier to stand out from the pack and increase your share of voice during the summer." It makes sense that professional social media are used less during this period, Kerkhofs continues. "This is particularly the case for LinkedIn. The inspiration platforms that people use to find inspiration for the summer, have a bit of fun or look at other people's pictures are especially popular. Think of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and, to some degree Pinterest. People have more free time, which also makes them more receptive to fun summer content than is usually the case."

Remia and Transavia
Kerkhofs cites the summertime social media campaigns of Remia as a good example; "Every year during the summer, this brand is very active to market its barbecue sauces and special condiments. They come up with a new campaign format every year. Think of e.g. BBQ recipes and design your own label. Like clockwork, those campaigns score above average in terms of their CPM/CTR/CPC/Engagement and in terms of the benchmark. In other words, they offer more value per euro spent." Another notable summer campaign comes from Transavia; "It focused on the people staying at home. The airline let people nominate others via social media."

Besides their smartphone, many people also like to bring magazines with them on holiday. M2Media strategist Robbert der Hulst: "With magazines, we see that people tend to read them more and more attentively. In part, this is the result of individual magazine sales, which can spike by up to 30% in the summer. According to DPG, 58% of Dutch people like to read magazines on holiday. They pay more attention to what they read because they tend to feel more relaxed during this time." Let's go back to TV for a bit. It is cheaper to run a TV ad campaign during the summer than during other seasons, while people's viewing behaviour does not change much at all, Han Roode explains. "A so-called index is used for TV advertisements. During the months when the TV advertising space is in high demand, there is a higher index than during the summer, when there is less demand from advertisers. This means you will pay less per TV viewer during the summer than in other seasons, even though people's viewing behaviour doesn't really change. In other words, you have to invest less in the summer to reach nearly the same number of people."

Retail sector
There is an important side note to all this, however: "The summer is a less ideal time for the retail sector. If, for example, people cannot find an Albert Heijn at their holiday destination, they will not be running there to buy the product they just saw on TV or online. This makes the summer a less successful period for direct activating communication in that sector. On the other hand, the summer months are the perfect time to work on your brand recognition," says Roode. Two years ago, Roode and his team experienced just how successful a TV ad campaign in June, July and August can be when they ran a campaign for viaBOVAG: "The campaign we launched for that online used-car platform performed spectacularly well during the summer months. It is clear evidence that a lot can indeed happen during the summer. The company's increased presence on TV during those months had a major impact on the reach of their various online channels." Roode cites the summer campaign for CEWE photo albums as another good example. "For that campaign, we also capitalised on the relevance of the momentum: putting holiday pictures in a photo album together. Although December is still the most important month for this brand, we were able to run a successful campaign in the summer that had a positive impact on various KPIs, including brand recognition."

Happy children, happy parents
There are various ways to capitalise on the fact that people are going away on holiday. One example that the head of the strategy remembers fondly is a travel app developed by Volkswagen that was specifically targeted toward children. "It is an app that uses AR technology to present the story in the environment as a kind of animated cartoon. It is perfect for parents who want to keep their kids occupied in the back seat as they drive to their holiday destination. It was a hit with children and their parents alike."
Roode says it is important to make sure that a brand's identity ties in perfectly with this kind of promotion. A good example is a campaign run by BOVAG, a branch organisation for personal vehicles, among other things. "During the holiday period, the brand specifically targeted people who were travelling abroad. Along every road leading out of the country, there were large displays on which BOVAG wished people a pleasant holiday. At the last petrol stations people would pass before crossing the border, BOVAG had put stalls where holiday goers could pick up a free holiday gift box full of theme-appropriate treats. This promotion was received very well by the target group. The campaign was not designed to reach a large audience, but that is not always the point. It was a sympathetic promotion that put a smile on people's faces. This ties in well with the intrinsic motivation of a brand like BOVAG."

Home campaigns
It is a good idea, in general, to run Out of Home campaigns during the summer; even though people spend less time travelling to and from their work and school, a study performed by Global shows that 87% spend a lot of their time outside. Robbert van der Hulst explains: "During the summer months, Out of Home campaigns can have a significant impact on a brand's recognition. According to MeMo2, the effect of OOH campaigns remains unaffected during the summer. That is no surprise when you consider that people are more likely to visit the park, the beach or attractions like a theme park or a zoo during the summer." Sjef Kerkhofs has a final piece of advice for any brand looking to launch a summertime social media campaign; "Keep it breezy, funny, inspirational and light. Use the beautiful weather, the latest summer trends and themed hashtags to your advantage. After all, people are looking for joy and happiness in their lives during this period. Last but not least, you can often make the most of user-generated content during the summer, e.g. when people all over the world post pictures of themselves lounging in the sun with one of your brand's delicious beverages in their hand." 

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