The Santa Report 2023

The Santa Report 2023



Ketzirah Lesser

Welcome to The Santa Report, 2023
The Santa Report, 2023 | Hipster Santa sitting in a chair

We’ve been tracking Santa Claus in our BrandAsset Valuator study since 1993. And while he is still clearly a leadership brand, we’ve seen a bit of a slip in his status over the past 30 years. In 1993 he was in the top of the leadership quadrant, with a peak in 2011, and is now falling into the mass market quadrant.

Chart showing Santa's brand strength and brand stature in the leadership quadrant, but with peak in 1993 and declining position since

That’s with all adults, though and we know that all brands aren’t equally relevant with all people. When looking at PowerGrid position for Santa Claus with all women, he drops even further into the mass market space but gains both strength and stature with people under 49. 

That sounds great, but when we look at pillars – Santa Claus may have a surprising problem with Gen-Z. 


Santa's Gen-Z Problem


Pillars illustrating Differentiation, Relevance, Esteem, and Knowledge for Santa across multiple generations

While Santa has great differentiation and knowledge with Gen-Z, the drop in relevance and esteem are a concern. And yes, in high school and college the relevance of Santa Claus may naturally decline, the drop in esteem is very concerning. 

Graph showing personality clusters scores for Santa across multiple generations

When looking at personality types, which are themes that categorize various perceptual dimensions across all brands, markets, and years, we can see that Santa may want to work on two key areas – Hip and Dependable to regain relevance and esteem with younger folks as they become parents.

A great way to shift the dynamic is strategic brand partnerships. Taking a quick look at brands that have a similar personality profile as Santa Claus in the BAV data, we found expected options like Elf on the Shelf, Disney Channel, and PBS Kids.

Less expected were brands such as:

  • Coachella (91% match)
  • Animal Crossing (89% match)
  • Mr. Clean (88% match)
  • Air Wick (87% match)
  • Fortnite (86% match)

Each of these brands offers very different and fascinating opportunity for brand partnerships. Should Santa Claus headline at Coachella or maybe consider leaving Coachella tickets in stockings this year? Making appearances in video games like Fortnite has been a huge boost for a variety of stars, and it certainly isn’t hard to imagine an integration with Animal Crossing with reindeer or a whole Santa-land! And I’m sure there are plenty of Gen-zers that would like bigger in-game spending banks as gifts. Looking at Mr. Clean and Air Wick, the phrase “smells like Christmas” certainly comes to mind.

Could Strategic Partnerships Help?

What if Santa Claus partnered with the queens of 2023 – Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

BAV Group partnership exchange map showing shared and compatible imagery attributes between Taylor Swift and Santa Clause

Looking at a partnership exchange map between Taylor Swift and Santa Claus with only Gen-Z as the audience, no Swiftie will be surprised at how much she is bringing to this partnership from an imagery perspective. But Santa has a few great imagery attributes like Cares About Customers and Socially Responsible that might be of interest to Ms. Swift. But it seems like a very one-side value proposition and Santa just might not be able to entice her.

Partnership exchange map showing complimentary and beneficial imagery attributes between Santa and Beyonce

What’s fascinating is that the balance between Santa and Queen Bé is a bit closer with Gen-Z. Yes, Beyoncé not only brings herself, which is enough for anyone, but also a host of great imagery attributes that are weaker for Santa. But in this case, Santa is bringing a lot to the party with imagery attributes like Dynamic, Fun, Kind, and Trustworthy.

SWOT with Key Competitor

Finally, it’s worth looking at a SWOT map for Santa’s brand. In this case, we chose to compare him to a brand he is highly associated with – Elf on the Shelf. Yes, we know that the Elf and Santa work together -- but how aligned are their brands? Is the partnership helping or hurting Santa Claus?

SWOT analysis of the brands of Santa Claus and Elf on the Shelf using BAV data from 2023

It seems that Gen-Z has some questions about whether that Elf on the Shelf really cares about its customers, but not the same for Santa. That’s a clear strength for him. Same with Creative, Friendly, and Dynamic. Of concern is that Gen-Z doesn’t perceive Santa as very Intelligent or Innovative. Those both might be areas to explore ways to enhance.

All in all, any brand would be thrilled to have the brand equity of Santa. But we know that preferences change not only from generation to generation, but also as generations move through their lives. Our analysis shows that while Santa may have a Gen-Z problem, there are plenty of ways to ensure the brand regains relevance before and after this generation becomes parents themselves.

Happy Holidays, from BAV Group.

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Author: Ketzirah Lesser

Ketzirah Lesser is an Executive Director with VMLY&R and Chief of Staff with BAV Group. She brings experience in brand, digital strategy, customer experience, direct marketing, integrated communications and loyalty marketing.

Connect with Ketzirah on LinkedIn.

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