3 Lessons from Christmas Markets’ Innovation and Branding


We are currently touring Europe and have been lucky enough to visit some of the most famous Christmas markets such as Montreux, Vienna, Munich and Nuremberg. The atmosphere with the Christmas lights is so romantic and festive, especially when it gets dark. The smell of mulled wine, apple-jack, gingerbread and other festive spices is very seductive. Here, people gather after school or work with friends, colleagues and families come to enjoy themselves; everybody is mingling close to keep warm. Now, you may wonder what Christmas Markets have to do with the International Young Leaders Club and our mission in helping young people with career choices and professional orientation!

Let’s look at how Christmas markets evolved first. In the late medieval times, just before Christmas, villagers would often go to a day-long market to stock up their supply of food for winter times from the local farmers. Later, to make those markets more attractive, craftsmen specializing in toy making started selling their creations as presents. Not much later, sweets, spiced nuts, toffee-apples and other Christmas delights become popular at the same markets, making them a more entertaining experience rather than just stocking up for winter times. What can we learn from this Christmas Market’s innovation and branding?

  • Know who you are talking to 

The cities running the markets have adjusted and innovated their concepts to what visitors need and would enjoy; we hardly go to a Christmas market to stock up for winter anymore. They believed that in order for the Christmas markets to survive innovation and branding was required. So they started to experiment and improve from year to year and still do. But, how about you? What do you do from year to year to make sure you develop and make sure your profile will be interesting to admissions managers, employers or investors? Do you know what they are expecting you to be able to demonstrate?

Starting from what the recruiters are wanting, identify the skills and expertise that they are looking for. Read through the job adverts and look at the ‘requirements’ list. You want to be able to say ‘yes’ to each of those requirements! Look at the entrance requirements for the course you want to study; again you must be able to tick the relevant boxes.

  • Dare to reinvent yourself 

And before you say you can’t do it… at IYLC we say that if you haven’t tried it, you don’t know if you’re good at it! People tend to use expressions like “I won’t be good at it.”, “That’s for other people.”, “I am not talented enough for that.” way too often without having really ever tested these assumptions. How can you know that you won’t be a good as an interior designer? Have you tried to design a living or working space before? Have you received the relevant guidance and support for it? Have you had the right resources? Unless you can answer all of these questions with a ‘yes’, we’d like to encourage you to really try it out before you dismiss anything. Life is full of opportunities and only those who go for them get them. Note there is no difference whatever age you are; it’s never too early or too late to try. Who knew that the Zurich Christmas Market would need developers to design a great mobile-app to enhance their offering? The App has the whole market program, exhibitors, events and a map and more.

  • Continuous and relevant development

Here’s a story form the Montreux market; the local glass blower was showing off his skills. He had set pieces that were on display, but we were looking for something special, unique for us. Despite the crowds he listened to what we were looking for and quickly mocked up a wonderful candle light holder with essential oil diffuser and some ideas for a superb spice rack.

Everyone already has some experience and qualifications but now you are going to go one step further and give it a try… how do you go about it ? Technical skills and soft skills are both in the category of life-long learning, actually as everything else in life. Make sure to research where you want to go early in advance in your professional path, acquire the relevant skills and be able to demonstrate those when it comes to it.

In her Harvard Blog Article Priscilla Claman argues that “In fact, in recent years all careers have seen an escalation in the credentials needed to succeed. Recent college grads are having trouble because they don’t have the technical or functional skills necessary for what used to be entry-level jobs.”

Robert W. Goldfarb demonstrates in his article on “How to Bridge the Hiring Gap” both perspectives on the skills gap. The students have to be active on their side in gaining all those skills through projects and part-time job or other extracurricular activities. At the same time, recruiting managers and CEOs have to be willing to recognize and transfer the skills they’re looking for from those student’s activities.

So what are you going to do today to become as in demand and popular on the job and university-entrance markets as the European Christmas Markets?