Connecting with your customers in difficult times: should Blue Monday be a marketing tool?

Mondays may be unwelcome at the best of times, but the third Monday in the month of January seems particularly cursed. Falling in the deep midwinter, at a time of year when post-Christmas finances are at their very lowest ebb, and amid the lingering guilt of already-broken New Year’s Resolutions, Blue Monday is reputedly the year’s dreariest day.

Or is it? As fashion bible Vogue reveals, the event is actually something of a fabrication- derived from a formula made back in 2004 by a qualified psychologist – but on behalf of a travel company that ‘wanted to sell more holidays during winter’. This year, with winter getaways unlikely for the foreseeable future, Vogue wisely recommends staying home and investing in a light box instead, a device which promises to boost low mood after only 20 minutes of use.

Vogue’s coping strategies to get through Blue Monday

Although Blue Monday may trace its origins to a light-hearted – or perhaps cynical – marketing opportunity, the milestone has serious implications for many, particularly this year – in the depths of a global pandemic. Mindful of this, the mental health charity Samaritans organised a ‘Brew Monday’ from 18 January, in a bid to encourage people to ‘get together over a warming virtual cuppa.’

At a time when whole countries are mired in lockdowns, with days stretching into weeks and months, Blue Monday can almost seem a state of mind. But rather than capitalising upon the associated misery, retailers need to grasp opportunities to connect with and support their customers, by offering empathy, coping strategies and uplifting content. Indeed, Forbes’ survey of 350 marketing leaders found empathy to be a 2021 marketing ‘supertrend’.

A great example of this comes from healthcare experts Holland & Barrett who have created some uplifting tips for successfully navigating the year’s most depressing day on their ‘Health Hub’, including connecting with others, gratitude, smiling more and positive affirmations.

Hush’s ‘Yellow decor to brighten your home’ advice

Also adopting a positive, wellbeing-centered approach, Boots the chemist encouraged followers of its Facebook page to beat the blues with a digital detox and a relaxing bath – possibly augmented with some of Boots’ own bath oils or deep-sea salts?

Elsewhere, fashion brand Hush advocates a selection of cultural cures for the January blues on its Life etc page, from digital gigs to online exhibitions. Hush is also showcasing the ‘warming’ potential of Illuminating Yellow – one of Pantone’s new colour picks for 2021. This, it declares, is a ‘mood-boosting colour, symbolising hope for the year ahead… and the perfect place to take our interior style cues from this season.’ We couldn’t agree more.

And striking a resilient note, British institution Fortnum & Mason advocates beating the blues with socially distanced celebration, with tips for making January’s Burns Night an occasion to remember – at home.

Fortnum & Mason’s tips for making Burns Night one to remember

With ordinary sources of enjoyment off the agenda, many consumers may have felt overwhelmed by the malaise of 2021’s Blue Monday. But providing reminders that this too will pass and providing uplifting content or coping strategies – not just on Blue Monday but throughout the year – could well help retailers to foster deeper connections.

Please get in touch if you’d like to explore how your content could be a powerful tool for expressing empathy and connecting with your customers.

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