Above: ???? iStockPhoto

By Krista Meckelborg

The holiday hangover is known as period of time after an extended vacation, often when feelings of melancholy occur. The days after returning to a regular routine are generally approached with disappointment and disgust. The 6 am mornings after a week of sleeping in past noon. The dreadfully long hours trapped at a desk after days of unencumbered freedom. The shocking realization that Netflix is no longer an acceptable pastime.

While these feelings are all a part of the typical holiday hangover, there is also a “hangover” feeling when it comes to shopping and advertisements.

December is a busy month. Not just because of events, but also the massive advertising push experienced over the past several weeks. From Black Friday deals, Cyber Monday, and Christmas shopping to Hanukkah presents, event outfit purchases, and Boxing Day sales. It’s all just…so much.

People are tired of shopping. But more than that, people are tired of all the noise that comes with consumerism. Advertising can be awful at the best of times, let alone during the holiday season.

Apart from all of these emotional responses to the post-Christmas season, many often find themselves low on cash after December. Even those who have not allowed the cluttered season to hinder their desire to shop are now finding themselves without the excess cash to do so.

As consumers go through the experience of the December aftermath, companies still need to sell their products. So how are businesses responding to this “hangover”?

The first week of January found many of us back at our old routines. However, people are still overcome by the magic of change and new beginnings as the new year starts. Some have even made specific resolutions to encourage and foster this change.

Marketers love resolutions because often they translate into purchases. “New year, new me” can be expensive. Resolutions to lose weight often result in feel-good purchases such as gym memberships and books on healthy eating. Commitments to spend more time with family may result in expenses such as travel costs, board games, or bowling outings.

When products don’t automatically align with traditional resolutions, marketers often frame them in a way that does. Loblaws, a large Canadian grocery retailer, developed an advertising campaign to play off of the popular new year’s commitment to spend more time with loved ones. Using the hashtag #EatTogether, their advertisements truly prove how something ordinary such as groceries can be used to appeal to those who are looking to make changes in the new year.

Even though the holiday season has only just passed us by, many businesses choose to drive an immediate push towards the next upcoming event. Although not always effective, this strategy is used frequently and is clearly evident if used. If you walk into a Dollarama today, you will already find shelves full of products that are intended for Valentine’s Day. There is no pause in this strategy, rather a constant press to the future.

While some brands are eagerly looking towards the future, others are desperately clinging to the past.  Many Boxing Day sales, such as that of the online retailer giant, Amazon, have extended far into January. This is doing little to appeal to those facing the aftermath of the holidays and often just adds to the clutter. Sales act as a need for immediate action, but when discounts are extended or can be found at any time of year, there is no pressure to buy.

Just because many people aren’t actually making many purchases today doesn’t mean that they’re not open to making purchases in the near future.Now more than ever, businesses are looking to build relationships with the consumers of tomorrow.

Much of this relationship building is accomplished through social media. Many have recently purchased products, are more likely to reach out to brands during this month with questions or complaints. Brands have a valuable opportunity to foster relationships with consumers during this time. Businesses are reaching out on social media to build raport with consumers and boost their reputation.

Additionally, many brands are using this time to release new content. Content is an incredibly powerful tool in building consumer-business relationships, as it adds value to the consumer and can often make them feel as though they are truly benefiting from a relationship with a brand. While this is true, branded content helps marketers keep their business at the top of consumers’ minds.

Alongside many of their consumers, businesses often use this time of year to change themselves as well.  Transformation is in the air, and many new business strategies are developed during this season.

As the holiday hangover wears off, expect to see marketers eagerly waiting to grab your attention once again. In the meantime, enjoy the return to your normal routine and the brief escape from consumerism.