Christmas trading for Hillier saw the company surpass its 2016 sales figures for the period by 16.2%. One of the main contributors to this success was an extensive integrated marketing campaign entitled "The Magic of Christmas". Consistent across all channels to provide a seamless experience, the campaign was focused around creating a traditional Christmas and reiterated Hillier’s position as a premium brand with horticultural expertise.
Three core values underpinned all Christmas activity — tradition, getting ready for the big day and bringing people together. The Magic of Christmas launched on 9 November with exclusive preview evenings in each of Hillier’s 12 garden centres. More than 2,500 people attended, resulting in 1,200 transactions and £17,000 being taken in just two hours. Carol singers were at each centre. Guests tasted the new festive restaurant menu, drank mulled wine and perused the decorations, plants and giftware on display.
The campaign was promoted in the Hillier magazine, received by 150,000 subscribers on the day of the preview evenings. The magazine was redesigned to offer a sense of luxury and be a source of inspiration. It featured gift guides, advice, recipes and special offers.
Hillier created advice guides and videos on how to decorate and how to craft different festive themes. Some 120 wreath workshops saw 460 people take part, generating ticket revenue and additional spend. It also offered "how to build your own hampers" for the first time. Promoting the availability and quality of real Christmas trees was a big focus.
On Facebook, Hillier ran a "12 giveaways of Christmas" with daily prizes, revealed by each of the Hillier garden centres through an entertaining video. There were more than 4,000 entries to the competition.
Throughout December, email newsletter frequency increased to one per week, pushing offers and messages including real trees. Emails maintained a high open rate and good click-throughs to the website. New PR activity and Google Paid Search, local media and Facebook advertising supported promotional lines and marketing messages.
The Magic of Christmas helped Hillier reach new audiences. Website visitors increased on the previous year, with the Christmas page being the most popular page after the home page, followed by the competition to win a Christmas tree. Social media followers grew and the Hillier Gardening Club had almost 3,500 new customers sign up to the loyalty scheme during the festive period.
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