Wishing trees to wombat soaps: Which department stores are winning Christmas in Australia?
December 1st, 2023, Samuel Tan

Wishing trees to wombat soaps: Which department stores are winning Christmas in Australia?

From Big W’s Christmas-loving ghost to Target’s ASMR rendition of jingle bells, general retail chains in Australia are welcoming the Yuletide season with a range of festive advertisements.

But which department stores are sparking the most buzz among consumers with their Christmas campaigns this year?

Ad reach, Brand buzz, Consumer chatter: How department stores compare as their Christmas campaigns take off

YouGov BrandIndex data from November 14-27 shows that, among Australia’s largest department stores, Kmart enjoys the highest Ad Awareness (43.8%) – or percentage of consumers who recall seeing their ads in the past two weeks – ahead of BIG W (38.6%), Target (24.8%), Myer (17.8%) and Kogan (10.1%).

While Kmart has not launched a big Christmas commercial as of late November, the Wesfarmers-owned retailer has been promoting its range of Christmas shopping offerings – from matching festive outfits for the family, Christmas trees and home décor, toys and gifts catalogue – on its website and social media channels since late October.

Target was the first major departmental store in Australia to launch its 2023 Christmas campaign, ‘Target All The Way’, in late October. Its festive commercial shows families preparing for Christmas celebrations, with the sounds of their festive shopping and home decorations activities ringing to the tune of “Jingle Bells”.

‘Make Your Merry Meaningful’ from Myer followed soon after in early November. Centering around a wombat-shaped soap that has been thoughtlessly regifted year after year, the campaign exhorts viewers to spend time choosing meaningful gifts for their loved ones this festive season.

‘There’s A Little Something for Everyone’ from Big W also appeared around the same time. The Christmas commercial follows Tilly, a young girl in her journey to choosing the best Christmas gift for her imaginary playmate – a messy ghost named Mr Boo.

And when it comes to the department store that consumers have heard the most good things about recently, Kmart leads again with a net Buzz score (difference of all positive and negative buzz) of 26.4, followed closely by BIG W (23.1), Target (12.9), Myer (9.0) and Kogan (2.2).

In mid-November, Kmart launched its 36th Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal in mid-November – an annual charity drive with The Salvation Army to distribute donated gifts from customers to needy households at Christmas.

Meanwhile, in terms of WOM Exposure – the department store most on consumer lips over the past fortnight – Kmart (33.6%) comes out tops again: ahead of BIG W (24.5%), Target (18.6%), Myer (12.3%) and Kogan (6.8%).

Who’s ringing in the Christmas cheer: How have department stores’ brand metrics changed this festive season?

While Kmart registered the highest brand metric scores as of late November, which department stores have most improved between early October – before Christmas campaigning started – and the latter half of November?

Comparing data from YouGov BrandIndex for October 1-14 with November 14-27 reveals that Kmart has seen the biggest spike in Ad Awareness (+10.0%) – followed by BIG W (+5.9%), Target (4.5%), Myer (3.4%) and Kogan (1.2%).

Big W, however, enjoys by far the largest growth in the number of consumers who have heard good things about it since festive campaigning began. The Woolworths group-owned retailer saw its net Buzz score spike (+8.0) – well ahead of Target (+1.7), Myer (+0.9), as well as Kogan (-1.2) and Kmart (-1.4) which saw dips in their scores.

In early November, Kmart pulled a Christmas food-themed bag adorned with the words “Merry HAM-MAS” from its online store, after criticism from the Australian Jewish Association on its likeness to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Meanwhile, Target and BIG W saw the relatively biggest increases in WOM Exposure (+3.4 and +3.2 respectively) – the percentage of consumers who talked with friends and family over the past fortnight about their brands – followed by Kogan (+2.0), Kmart and Myer (both +1.2).

As the Christmas weekend and actual festivities finally approach, will the ad reach, brand buzz and consumer chatter of Australia’s major department stores markedly change? YouGov BrandIndex’s daily tracking of consumer perceptions will allow interested parties to see just how much – and how soon.

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This article is part of our Christmas buzz in APAC review series. Explore how other retail players in Australia and Singapore are sparking the most buzz with consumers this festive season in our companion articles below:

Celebrating big on the little things: Which supermarkets are winning Christmas in Australia?

Fitted for the festivities: Which malls & attractions are most exciting Singapore this Christmas?


Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Ad Awareness scores are based on the question: “Which of the following brands have you seen an advertisement for in the past two weeks?” (% Yes). Buzz scores are based on the following question: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following brands have you heard something positive/negative about the following brands?" (Net score). WOM Exposure scores are based on the question: “Which of the following brands have you talked about with friends and family in the past two weeks (whether in person, online, or through social media)?” (% Yes). Figures are based on a 4-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.

Cover Photo by ArtMarie