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How Sears Stole Christmas With Its Content Marketing
Before eBay, Amazon and the ubiquitous growth of online shopping, families across the U.S. waited all year for catalogs to arrive in the mail to start their holiday-season shopping.
An Early Christmas Gift
It was one catalog in particular that grabbed the attention of families across the country – the Sears Wish Book. First published in 1933, the Sears Wish Book was a collection of the best products the department store had to offer for the festive season. Aside from being beautifully designed and filled with Christmas spirit, the book helped parents shop quickly and efficiently without the worry of crowded stores. This catalog’s arrival became a surefire sign that the holidays were approaching.
Over the years, the Sears Wish Book became inextricably linked with the holiday season. Children circling everything they want for Christmas in red pen became a yearly tradition. It revolutionized the way people shopped by bringing the store to the customer’s front door – a relatively new concept at the time – and filled homes with excitement for the holidays.
The Power of Nostalgia
Some of the original recipients of the catalog still cherish and remember it – copies of the once-free wish book sell for up to $100 dollars on eBay, avid fans spend hours compiling scanned images of the catalogs online and small towns mock up Christmas scenes featured in the catalogs from decades ago. Sears even brought it back after 24 years in 2017 for a digital one-off, bringing the company positive nationwide coverage.
Through this catalog, Sears cemented its spot in hundreds of families’ Christmas traditions. It still holds that reputation with many people today. By creating a piece of branded content that was as useful as it was filled with Christmas spirit, Sears was able to position itself as the go-to store for holiday shopping. While Sears was inevitably unable to keep up with the ecommerce revolution and recently filed for bankruptcy, it created a piece of holiday lore that shoppers associate with the brand to this day.