Q4 has long been the holy grail for marketers. Jam-packed with calendar hooks and reasons to shop, for many brands this quarter is seen as the most important for reaching new customers and generating revenue. But what if they’re missing the point? The most underrated quarter for today’s marketers is Q5.
But what even is Q5? It’s the fifth marketing quarter that starts right after Christmas and goes on until mid January. As a marketer, if you think the buying stops after Christmas, breaking news: it doesn’t! According to a recent survey, 92% of consumers plan to continue shopping after the holidays. The customer is still shopping, but the focus has shifted from gifts to something else entirely.
That’s why we turned to our community to test their knowledge about Q5 marketing with a LinkedIn poll, and the results were divisive: While a majority of respondents (61%) have never heard of Q5, a quarter of respondents are already prepared with their Q5 strategy. It’s a ‘when you know, you know’ type of scenario.
To ensure all marketers get the most out of this hidden quarter, we’ve put together a Q5 marketing guide filled with insights from two of our in-house experts: Eric Vissers, Senior Marketing and Business Development Manager and Adrian Fahle, Senior Growth Strategist at DCMN.
The most important question: Why Q5?
Think of Q5 as a way to round off the Q4 campaigns while kicking-off your Q1 strategy, all at once. As Eric says: “It’s the unwritten rule that Q5 is the final post-holiday push for your products and services”.
“Q5 is a quarter for the smaller fish, as the big fish have already used up their budgets and are working out the Christmas numbers. If you’re a smaller brand, devise a plan and use Q5 to stand out and leverage this period”.
How Q5 can boost your marketing strategy
Once Christmas campaigns are over, many retailers and marketers are busy analysing their post-campaign numbers and prepping for Q1. And this is when small businesses can leverage this quiet period — to strengthen their brand and score a good deal on media packages. Q5 is often overlooked by traditional marketers, who believe that buyers aren’t as likely to make a purchase after the holiday season. But that’s not entirely true. Once the gifts for friends and family are done and dusted, consumers are still on a ‘holiday-high’ with a lot of purchase intent left over. And that’s before mentioning the fact that they often have gift cards, returns or cash for personal purchases.
A clear advantage for Q5 marketers is the ease in buying media space as certain agencies and networks offer reduced prices for this quarter. By the time December rolls in, most big brands have exhausted their marketing budgets during their end-of-year campaigns or Cyber Week.
“If you’re looking to run a TV campaign in early January, you’ll possibly get a better deal and get your ads seen by just as many eyeballs,” adds Eric.
Expert tips for driving a successful Q5 campaign
The messaging: I love you, but I love me more.
“The focus after Christmas shifts from your loved ones to you,” explains Adrian. Consumers are generally in a forward-thinking mindset and looking for lifestyle upgrades for the upcoming year: Q5 is a time for personal development and splurging. This is the time when they’re thinking about what gift they didn’t receive over Christmas, or how they envision the new year to be. For many, these decisions may revolve around a few common verticals: health and fitness, gaming and online shopping.
Think ‘new year, new me’ purchases like workout gear, gym subscriptions, beauty products and clothing — these are all things that help to make us feel good and confident about jumping into the upcoming year. Eric adds: “When it comes to messaging, refrain from using the age-old fear tactic; instead, focus your messaging on embracing the festive atmosphere and the reflective mindset of a new year, and making people feel optimistic about the year ahead.
Additionally, Q5 is a great time to utilise incentives, discounts and offers. However, there is one important rule to keep in mind, according to Eric. “Q5 goals should not aim to increase sales or app installs overnight,” he says. “It rather serves short term goals for supporting your long term strategy.” Think of it as capitalising on your holiday customers: and turning them into your loyal fans for the longer run. Depending on when your Q5 campaign begins, there are two phases that are key when it comes to messaging, adds Adrian. “If you’re targeting right after Christmas, keep the Christmas cheer alive. But if your campaign begins in January, talk about what the future can bring”.
The channels: Screen is gold!
According to Eric,
“Anything with a screen is gold for Q5!”
Where’s your audience? Beating the post-Christmas slump. Copious amounts of food has been consumed, work is still a week away and it’s time to binge a show, play a game or scroll through social media.
He suggests combining branding and performance channels to boost your Q5 strategy. Performance TV fits these shoes perfectly as it offers low CPM (cost-per-mille) and competitive rates for ad space, as the Q5 period gets quieter with the Christmas campaigns weaning off. Another channel on the rise that Eric recommends are podcasts and podcast influencers, which can be a cost-effective performance channel.
When it comes to channels for Q5 marketing, Adrian recommends TV, CTV and digital. “Q5 marks the post-holiday ‘me’ time for customers,” he explains. “This is when they’re on their phones, tablets or laptops, with some free time to reflect and it’s easier for your message to reach them during Q5, as opposed to after mid-January when everyone’s back to their routines.”
The most promising verticals: Ecommerce, fitness & gaming
The verticals that work best in Q5 according to Eric, are health and nutrition, ecommerce and gaming. Eric, who has previously worked at a health and fitness app, notes that:
“Q5 is for targeting new year resolutions around fitness, nutrition and mental health”.
He’s right: who hasn’t started a gym subscription or tried a new workout regime to fight the post-holiday food coma?
Another vertical which should definitely tap into Q5 is ecommerce. Whether it’s price-comparison platforms, beauty, electronics or clothing, consumers are looking for a lifestyle upgrade too!, “Along with gaming, fitness and ecommerce, travel is huge for Q5 as people book their holidays for the year, however, this trend has slowed down during the pandemic,” explains Adrian.
Q5 is also big for mobile gaming. During this period, people usually have more time on their hands to catch up on their favourite games. Another reason why mobile gaming companies love Q5 is because of the sheer volume of mobile phones that users receive as Christmas gifts. Mobile and gaming ads offer a sweet spot for marketers in Q5 with an obvious spike in inventory (mobile users) post Christmas and the right timing to push gaming and utility apps. Anything else? “Q5 is a great time to attract new users and tap into their curiosity of new devices and apps,” says Eric. And how does in-game advertising work? Here’s a handy guide for marketers looking to explore this channel.
Do’s and don’ts of Q5 marketing
Do: Plan early, set realistic expectations and think both long and short term while setting goals for Q5.
Don’t: Approach Q5 with a limited mindset — it serves a purpose beyond being a period for an inexpensive, one-off campaign.
Do: Lower the barriers to entry for your product or service. Invite new users by letting them experience your product with free trials and incentives to buy.
Don’t: Buy ad space without a plan. Do your research, and use tools like Google Trends to analyse how your previous Q5 volumes looked. If your product doesn’t fit into the season, skip Q5. For instance, if you’re selling sunglasses to a European audience, Q5 might not be the right fit, as users are not looking for your product yet.