13 November 2023

Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Our Predictions For This Year’s Festive Trends

At Equator, we use every tool at our disposal to identify, analyse and predict seasonal trends. It helps us track and plot how they evolve year on year, giving our clients an edge when it comes to creating seasonal designs that sparkle on shelf.

Last year, before summer had even drawn to a close, we turned our attentions to the upcoming trends and set our sights on the holiday season for 2023. Here’s what we predict you’ll see retailers focussing on this time around.

  1. Increased empathy and emotional engagement

As a response to the conflict and uncertainty we’ve lived through this year, many of us have turned our attention to cultivating moments of joy, indulging in creature comforts and prioritising things that improve physical and emotional wellbeing. Aesthetically speaking, this is likely to manifest itself in calm neutral colour palettes, comforting textures, natural materials, and echoes of the natural world in decorations like pinecones and foliage. When it comes to product packaging, it can be seen in an increase in emotional engagement from brands, with many choosing to show empathy through language that is reassuring, comforting, and uplifting. This, too, is a reaction and necessary counterpoint to the testing times of world security, covid fall-out and financial anxiety we’ve been experiencing.

  1. Inclusive choices for a fairer world

Increased empathy has also led to a greater demand for inclusivity, with consumers seeking brands that share their values and products that don’t leave anyone out in the cold. It seems that society is seeking to level the social playing field and present a culture that is fairer and better representative of all. We’ll see this reflected in a variety of ways this Christmas, from an increase in festive food that accommodates people’s dietary needs (think gluten- or dairy-free) to a greater representation of ‘difference’ in product design, packaging and lifestyle photography, from gender and sexuality to skin colour, ethnicity, and ability.

 

  1. Meaningful gifting that’s socially and environmentally conscious

Meaningful consumption is evident this year, as shoppers continue to make less materialistic choices, opting for products that enhance wellbeing, are personalised or handmade, contribute to social causes, or are recyclable, fairtrade or charitable. There is a growing discussion about seasonal gifting and balancing this not only with our own wellbeing but with the wellbeing of the planet. Gifts that deliver kindness to both will win out.

Experience and activity gifting is also likely to grow its share of the market, as consumers focus on creating moments that bring joy to people’s lives, rather than items that could be disposed of, creating waste. According to Andrea Bell, VP of Consumer Insights at WGSN, “Brands that can create gifts out of services and experiences will win… For all industries, from beauty to food and drink.”

  1. Aesthetics influenced by the cultural landscape

The cultural landscape has had a huge effect on seasonal trends this year, with films, exhibitions, and events all playing their role. The release of this year’s Barbie film, for example, has reignited the Y2K ‘Barbiecore’ trend; an unapologetic celebration of the ‘Girl-Power’ years as experienced in music (The Spice Girls) and chick flicks (Clueless). We anticipate the ‘Barbieland’ aesthetic, with its assertive femininity and palate of vibrant pinks and new hippy vibes, to make an appearance this Christmas, influencing gift purchases, décor and wrapping colour schemes, party food choices and clothing.

Similarly, significant exhibitions on African photography and fashion, held at the Tate Modern and V&A South Kensington respectively, have fuelled renewed appreciation of the art and people of the second largest continent, providing an opportunity to re-imagine the holidays, with beautiful hand-crafted textures and rich warm colours that extend our year-round modern home palette. We see this reflected in organic textures, brushed patterns, animal motifs and bold wax prints.

  1. Globally inspired food choices for a festive feast

Central to the holidays is the celebration of great food. It is how we define our own holiday traditions and embrace new ones. As a trend, we witness the ritual of celebratory food preparation which can delight as well as unite. The tone can be nostalgic but also fun. We’ve also gained increased confidence in travel this year and, as a result, our expectations for food innovations at home will be evident. As a consequence, we will see even more diversity in theme and flavour in the 2023 Christmas hamper.

Drop back in in January for a sneak peek at our predictions for next year.

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