For brands and retailers of all sizes, the stress of Christmas traditionally reaches fever point at this time of year. With a festive gift market worth around £40billion there to be tapped into, a British consumer base slowly beginning to further indulge post-recession and the ever looming presence of e-commerce sites waiting in the wings, it can feel like the battle to win customers has never been so important.

But although the importance of Christmas can’t be underestimated, I’ve always found it strange how some brands approach this time of year with such a panicky outlook. Because although it’s certainly a retail battle there to be won, the festive gift market doesn’t represent the entire war.

The preparation put into marketing efforts around the run-up to December and the festive period is unparalleled compared to any other time of year for many brands and rightly so.  But when you sit down and break down how many times you’re purchasing something for someone else over the course of a year, your gift spending is hardly consigned to the doomsday Christmas countdown.

I thought about my gift spend over the last year and from Valentine’s Day and Easter to Mother’s & Father’s Day, it turns out I’m a lot more selfless than I think! But if you look beneath that, all the occasions mentioned there are huge opportunitiesfor brands and retailers to tap into.

In this brilliant blog post by UK experiential marketing agency, iD Experiential, Claire Hutchings talks about the way in which brands strive to gain the upper hand throughout the Christmas period by adding value to the retail exchange process.

Experiential marketing – essentially the act of engaging with consumers through everything from pop-up shops to in-store demonstrators – is naturally something that’s adopted far more prevalently by brands at Christmas, than it is say, mid-way through Spring. For example, a cosmetics company is less likely to offer you a free sachet or engage with a general consumer in the middle of April, as there’s far less chance of you purchasing some from your partner than in the run-up to Christmas.

But the question I’ve been mulling over is whether that’s strictly true.

Because if we go back to the gift buying occasions mentioned earlier, I’d find I would probably be likely to buy a gift for someone else at least another four times a year – and that’s not even including birthdays.

In the United States, Easter is now the fastest growing gift opportunity and with the same market now worth £500m on this side of the pond, it’s high time brands and retailers started looking past Christmas as a prime retail opportunity.

Experiential marketing and in-store demonstration is often a brand’s most potent weapon in helping drive sales during the festive period. Trying to gain the custom of a consumer who might never use the product they’re purchasing can seem difficult. But the face-to-face contact and positive impression that experiential campaigns can bring to a brand can help make the difference needed to drive a sale.

So while in-store and marketing managers turn to everything from gift-wrapping to festive themed Pop-Up shops this Christmas, now seems a good opportunity to offer them a timely reminder: experiential marketing is for life – not just for Christmas!