‘Tis the Season of Holiday Marketing Strategies
It's that time of the year again when Holiday Marketing becomes the buzzword for marketers everywhere. It’s a race against time for brands hoping to capture customer attention before planning their big holiday spends. Some brands win big at holiday marketing, while others fail to get noticed. But one thing is clear: the holiday season can be the most valuable time of the year for businesses looking to grow and expand their reach. In this short guide, we take you through everything you need to know about holiday marketing so that you can capitalize on consumer preferences during these upcoming holidays.
It’s that time of the year again when Holiday Marketing becomes the buzzword for marketers everywhere. It’s a race against time for brands hoping to capture customer attention before planning their big holiday spends.
In the 2022 holiday season, consumers spent a whopping $1.14 trillion online globally. In fact, holiday sales represent an average of 20% or even 30% of annual retail sales across most industries in the US.
These numbers surely cannot be overlooked. It is well-known that creating a marketing strategy requires stepping into the customer’s shoes. It’s not just about what or how they buy, but also about when they are most likely to buy. This is where time-driven marketing strategies such as moment-marketing and holiday-marketing work wonders.
Some brands win big at holiday marketing, while others fail to get noticed. But one thing is clear: the holiday season can be the most valuable time of the year for businesses looking to grow and expand their reach.
In this short guide, we take you through everything you need to know about holiday marketing so that you can capitalize on consumer preferences during these upcoming holidays.
What is Holiday Marketing?
Holiday marketing, also known as seasonal marketing, refers to marketing campaigns designed to market a brand, product, or service by associating it with a festival or holiday.
It is effective not only because consumers make more purchases around the holiday season but also because they may associate certain brands with a particular holiday holiday. This helps enhance brand recall and loyalty.
For example, Coca-Cola’s marketing around the Christmas holidaysis so effective that people tend to buy more Coke during this period. It’s like Christmas being connected to Coca-Cola ads!
Similarly for the Indian festival of Durja Pooja 2023, Coca-Cola released an ad immersing the drink into the very heart of the festivities, making it an evitable part of the celebrations.
This is why a well-planned holiday marketing campaign can elevate the brand to the next level.
When does the Holiday Season Start Worldwide?
Holiday seasons across the world are obviously varied based on beliefs, religion, and values. But the holiday season generally starts around the second half of the year across the globe.
The holiday season is when the majority of the people start to plan vacations for an extended period of time (sometimes, the holidays may even be public holidays or national holidays).
For example, in most western countries such as the United States, Canada, and Europe, the last week of December (from Christmas to New Year’s) is the major holiday season. Halloween and Thanksgiving, that start much earlier, are also major holidays in regions where these are celebrated.
Similarly, in most Middle Eastern and some Southeast Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, among others, Ramadan marks the holiday season. In India, the holiday season starts towards around October, from Dusshera onwards. In China, it is the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).
While these may be the major holidays in each region, there are several holidays people observe throughout the year, such as Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, and June – the pride month, among others.
Customize your Marketing according to the Holiday
Needless to say, your marketing needs to have a connection with the holiday. If you’re marketing during the Christmas holidays, your campaign must reference all things related to Christmas. Picture your product wearing a Santa hat or a lot of snow on your website. These references make it easy to connect your brand with the holiday in the consumer’s mind.
Additionally, don’t forget to tailor your message according to the target audience as well. If your audience is primarily GenZ, you can show the holiday to be a time of fun. In contrast, if your audience is older, then you can depict the holiday as a time for tradition and family.
For example, Erste Group Bank in 2021 focused their message on family and relationships by making their ad about connecting with each other during the holiday season.
Make Your Offerings and Collections Holiday-themed
There cannot be a better time to add a holiday flavor to your products and services and create opportunities to cross-sell and/or up-sell.. Consider bundling your products as “gift bundles.” You may also offer more gifting options in the form of gift cards. Further, you can consider launching a holiday-themed limited-edition range. This also helps grab eyeballs and create a feeling of FOMO – the fear of missing out.
For instance, during Halloween, Kraft Heinz rolled out Blood Ketchup to encourage people to use the ketchup creatively in Halloween-themed recipes.. Example? Think of French fries as vampire fangs.
Holiday-theming is not just limited to your offerings. Your website can also reflect the mood of the holiday. For example, having a Indian festival of lights, Diwali-themed landing page that offers an interactive experience with fire- crackers and diyas (lamps).
Boost Email Marketing Aligned with the Holiday Season
Consider email marketing campaigns to boost sales—these can include:
- Announcing a holiday sale in advance
- Sending exclusive offers to loyal customers
- Simple greeting emails to wish customers
- Reminders on deals that expire soon
While customers may be flooded with promotional emails during and before holiday seasons, what may help you stand out is attractive templates and a strong message associated with the holiday.
Further, though you may be marketing for the holiday season, having a more long-term view is good. The marketing that you do today, can also serve you tomorrow. For example, you can use your holiday season marketing to build up your mailing list. This mailing list can be used to apprise your potential customers of various offers throughout the year and beyond.
Run Offers and Discounts
The best time to run discounts and offers is when people really have the intention to buy—which happens to be pretty high during holiday seasons. That bundled with some additional complementary services like gift wrapping, free-delivery, and additional surprise gifts, can go a long way in retaining customers.
Be Prepared For the Rush With Some Extra Support
Holiday seasons can be overwhelming for busineses—especially in terms of managing website/app traffic and order fulfilment (payment and delivery). Therefore, optimize your website and app, ensure simpler flows, and offer 24/7 chat support if required. Also, check if your brand can really fulfill the high demand and accordingly, set return and shipping policies during the period. It’s better not to overpromise and underdeliver.
Having said that, also remember that the holiday season also applies to you and your employees. Don’t make the same mistake that Kmart in the US made ten years ago in 2013. Their decision to open their stores a day early for Thanksgiving and open throughout Black Friday led to severe criticism from consumers, many of whom chose to boycott the American retail giant. Consumers protested against the unfair treatment of the employees who had to forego their holiday time to be at work, instead of at home with their families.
Leverage Multiple Channels
Use the right marketing channels to reach your target customers. In times of holidays, staying active on social media can pay off. Some eye-catching posts and witty connections to the festival can capitalize on engagement opportunities.
It can also help to stay on multiple channels to cater to various target groups. That said, not every marketing channel is appropriate for you. For example, most brands will try connecting with their audiences through paid ads such as Facebook or Google ads. This may increase the cost of marketing very significantly during the holiday season. To bypass this, think of alternative channels to use which may be equally effective.
What to Avoid while planning a Holiday Marketing Strategy?
While designing your marketing campaign, some things need to be avoided.
Don’t forget to connect with your existing network during the holidays. A simple WhatsApp message wishing them happy holidays can work wonders. Further, avoid repeating the same campaign that year after year since people are likely to remember. Also, be sure to be sensitive to consumers’s beliefs and faiths before crafting holiday-related messages.
Do Not Miss: Stellar Examples of Holiday Marketing Strategies
Taco Bell & Starbucks, US:
Holidays can be expensive. In the US, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year coming back-to-back, Taco Bell focused their messaging around saying “I love you” with food and making it less stressful for shoppers by selling small-ticket e-gift cards.
Starbucks also ran a successful Christmas marketing campaign in 2015, the #redcupcontest, and encouraged fans to post their unique designs on social media to win prizes. This has now become an annual holiday tradition!
Benefit Cosmetics, Middle East:
In the holy month of Ramadan, Benefit Cosmetics’ Middle East division tied up with nine regional influencers to create video content that speaks to the values of Ramadan. The month-long campaign aimed at creating a brand moment without linking it to products.
BMW launched a video during CNY 2021 called “Bà Mā Wǒ” (爸妈我). The witty title used three Chinese characters (father, mother, and me) to signify the family, with the first character of each word a play on “B”, “M” and “W,” respectively. A video series showed families from various regions of China and played brilliantly on the theme of reunion.
Few brands have established brand connections during the festival of lights as well as Cadbury. In 2022, Cadbury Celebrations rolled out the #ShopsForShopless campaign. This campaign aimed to support small vendors and hawkers with technology-based solutions like QR codes to boost their festive sales. This was supported by a touching film, seeking to empower millions of local businesses and brightening up their Diwali.
To sum up, there are several ways to market during the holiday season. But here are a few things to remember:
- Holidays are important windows of opportunity for marketers, as they account for a sizeable portion of sales.
- Several strategies have stood the test of time—these include customizing marketing strategies and products around specific holidays, running promotions, being ready for the rush, and utilizing the right channels.
- Marketers may want to avoid overpromising customers, repeating previous campaigns, and being insensitive to cultural beliefs.
- Remember that the brand that you create during the holidays stays throughout the year. Focusing on timeless marketing do’s and don’ts to have the highest likelihood of creating an impact.
Holiday marketing, if done right, can be like hitting several targets with a single aim. You can take advantage of the holiday shopping rush, build brand recall and loyalty, and make new connections to whom you can market in the future.