Christmas Vacation Reality Gaps

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Dec 23 2013, Posted by Gary Lee

It’s the holidays, and at my house that means our family digging out the traditional Christmas movies to watch as time and the chaos of the holidays allows. We recently watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold and enjoyed the hilarity of the Griswold’s Family Vacation.

In the movie, Clark envisions an old-fashioned Christmas similar to those he remembers from his childhood. He wants a Christmas filled with family, warmth, presents, and hopefully a Christmas bonus check large enough to cover the down payment on a pool that he cannot afford. Clark’s own wife warns him about setting his expectations too high for the family holiday, but Clark presses on to create the perfect family Christmas between his wife, kids, parents, in-laws, that crazy cousin Eddie and his family.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the reality of what happens at Christmas in the Griswold family is far different from Clark’s expectations and vision: the Christmas lights don’t work; the crazy aunt’s cat catches on fire and dies; the Christmas tree catches on fire; a dog chases a squirrel through the house ensuring that plates, food and everything else is smashed to bits; and, what’s worse, Clark’s Christmas bonus check is not a check at all, but a membership into the Jelly of the Month club. This membership later launches the family into a whole new adventure involving the kidnapping of Clark’s boss and a full police SWOT attack on Clark’s house.

This huge gap between Clark’s expectations for the perfect, traditional family Christmas holiday, and the reality of what ensues, is what we at InReality call a “Reality Gap”. It’s what consumers experience with brands each and every day of the year as their expectations for a service, product, in-store experience, customer-service call, etc. are met with something far different, thus creating a gap between their expectations and the reality they experience. In Clark’s case, the reality gap was huge, and in our own experiences with brands, the reality gaps can be just as large.

As you have quiet time over these next weeks of the holidays, think about how consumers experience your own brands. What promises are you making and what expectations are you setting that are not being fully met in the reality of retail? What “reality gaps” are you creating by not ensuring that every “touchpoint” with a consumer is focused on providing the right brand experience?

At InReality, we’d love to help you identify and shrink these reality gaps between your brand promises and what consumers are actually experiencing in 2014.

For now, we wish you the very Happiest of Holidays. And we sincerely wish your own family vacations and holiday get-togethers this year have as small a “reality gap” as possible (or at least not one as wide as the Griswold’s).
Image Copyright: carballo / 123RF Stock Photo

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