Debenhams seeks to make customers feel 'Christmassy' with in-store experience

Retailer champions gifter rather than giftee in Christmas campaign.

Debenhams has created an in-store Christmas market that capitalises on department store shopping.

The experience builds on the "Do a bit of Debenhams" campaign by Mother that launched in September, championing "the unapologetic joy of shopping" in-store. This was followed by the brand's Christmas campaign this month. It is part of the retailer’s push to "reclaim the joy of shopping" and make physical shops a social destination.

Jane Exon, director of marketing operations at Debenhams, said: "It’s very easy to shop online, so if our customers are making the effort to come and visit the high street, we want them to have a really great time when they do so."

The activation aims to imbue shoppers with a "Christmas feeling" and inspire them through curated gift choices in the market-style displays.

Exon said that years of research have informed the brand’s strategy this year. "The customer expects department stores to make them feel Christmassy – that’s [Debenhams'] role. Lot’s of customers have great memories of shopping in department stores as children and, particularly outside of London, we’re often the biggest and most exciting place to shop. So it’s really important we do that for them."

The in-store market marks a more measured approach to Christmas from Debenhams, which is spending less overall both in media and in-store.

"In terms of store experience, we’re not spending more money, but we’ve thought really carefully where we spend that money so we create really interesting, curated gift ideas," Exon explained. "We've been working really hard all year to make sure our gifting product is much better than last year, and then we’ve worked hard to showcase that through our visual merchandising and the stories that we're telling."

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