Indigo aims for an easier, more premium holiday

The retailer is reflecting how people want to shop in a pandemic: stress-free, online and with an eye towards products that make their lives better.


Holiday retail kickstarts earlier each year, but this year’s lockdowns and consumer health concerns have made that a safety and operational imperative.

That’s why one focus of Indigo’s “Holiday Your Way” digital campaign is to alleviate new stresses of the season, by showing Canadians they can decorate, entertain and find gifts for the holidays “their way,” through whatever purchase channel they wish. “If our customers are ready to holiday, so are we,” says Alison Lawler-Dean, Indigo’s VP of marketing.

The “ready to holiday” tagline, Lawler-Dean says, is designed to let consumers know offers associated with Black Friday have moved up and won’t just be a one-day sale. Other value-drivers began as early as the first weeks of October. In addition to making managing store safety slightly easier, stretching out the holiday shopping season will help Indigo deal with shipping demands for online orders, where Indigo expects a big spike.

This is part of an effort to reduce the urgency of holiday shopping at a retailer that typically has the longest lineups in malls across Canada this time of year. “We can’t have a year where everyone is shopping in December,” says Lawler-Dean. “It just won’t work. We can’t have everyone shopping last minute, door crashing sales.”


The tagline also reflects how customers are making gift choices, which Lawler-Dean says is through a value lens – not just in terms of price but its intrinsic value, answering the question “how do these things help me live better?” That means showing items being used in everyday life, especially for wellness products which are going to be emphasized even more prominently in January.

Lawler-Dean says Indigo is also looking to showcase fewer, better pieces to make things more findable, featuring items consumers can keep for many seasons, such as throws, décor and pillows. That’s also reflected in a “behind the scenes” with new chief creative officer Nathan Williams, explaining his approach to selecting the product assortment highlighted in the campaign.

Indigo diversified its assortment in response to the struggles book sellers have been facing. But in 2020, its book business is starting to bounce back and in-demand titles are featured among the decor and wellness products, such as Barack Obama’s latest memoir, “A Promised Land.”

“The value of books has come up quite a bit, and after almost a decade of decline, book sales are spiking,” Lawler-Dean says, especially when it comes to those devoted to wellness, mental health and meditation, which are experiencing double-digit sales increases from pre-pandemic.


Indigo has been reaching out to older customers to emphasize the value proposition of ecommerce, but that has had the side effect of bringing more younger customers in through the channel than before. Lawler-Dean says it’s also seeing success engaging younger demos with shorter online video formats, like the ones utilized in this campaign, as well as digital coupon platforms, like Flipp.

When it comes to Flipp, Lawler-Dean says Indigo is using it slightly differently than in previous years. While it’s a coupons-first platform, Indigo is using it to showcase its gift guide catalogues, to stand out from other retail flyers.

The brand is focusing on a digital-first approach that it started this year, and for the holiday campaign that includes social, online video, display and big pushes through affiliate marketing and SEM. It has also turned to radio to achieve its mass reach this year – though it couldn’t prioritize for the holidays, Lawler-Dean says Indigo has plans to explore more connected TV formats in 2021.

Ad spend is lower than previous holiday seasons, thanks to a challenging retail environment and cost-saving measures.

Taxi led the creative ad production, while Indigo brought its media buying in-house earlier this year, with the retailer handling its own creative for the holiday campaign as well.