Why the one-size-fits all approach won’t work for your holiday campaign

Candy canes and candles on a table.

The winter holiday season is an ultra-competitive time of year for all brands – but especially eCommerce and retail brands. With everyone upping the ante in the run-up to Christmas, it can be difficult for smaller brands and newcomers to the market to stand out from the noise.

Listening to your audience provides the first key to planning any great marketing campaign, and holiday marketing is no exception to this rule. Taking a step back from the drawing board and getting in tune with your customers’ preferences, needs and emotions will go the extra mile.

Here are three questions you should be asking yourself and your audience to help design a campaign that feels genuine, authentic and relatable.

Question 1: What is the most important holiday to your audience?

Across the majority of the Western world, Christmas is the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year. But, this doesn’t ring true for everyone.

Particularly amongst young adults, New Year’s Eve or Halloween might be a better choice to focus on, as it brings up opportunities to socialise and have fun with friends. Depending on where your customer base is located and their demographic make-up, you might want to focus on other holidays: Lunar New Year, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Eid, Hanukkah, Three Kings’ Day, Veteran’s Day and Dios de los Muertos are amongst a few. Even by basing your campaign on something collective like the Winter Solstice, you can set your campaign apart while including everyone who lives in the Northern Hemisphere.

By focusing only on Christmas, you risk alienating large segments of your audience who don’t celebrate the holiday, or would prefer to focus on other major events. Do a bit of digging, and find out what holidays are important to your customers before designing your holiday campaign.

Question 2: What do your customers want from this holiday?

Once you’ve successfully identified the holiday you’ll be focusing on, you then have to ask yourself what it is you will offer to your customers.

If the holiday mostly focused on gift-giving, discounts or gift bundles could benefit your audience. Or if it’s more about the experience of the holiday, perhaps an exclusive virtual or non-virtual event would be more likely to capture people’s attention.

Don’t forget that the festive practices and traditions linked to the holiday you’ve chosen will differ around the world and across different demographic groups. In Japan, KFC is a typical Christmas dinner, whereas in Australia, Christmas dinner might well be barbecued. By offering something that links back to these traditions, you’ll make sure you’re capturing the attention of your audience.

Perhaps the holiday you’ve focused on, such as Veteran’s Day, is a time of reflection for your audience. Providing content as food for thought, or even the opportunity to give back in a charitable way could be an alternative to a typical promotion or discount.

Question 3: What feelings does this holiday bring up for them?

We often see the holiday season as a happy, joyful period, but the reality is that it’s not always the case for everyone. A Yougov study showed that a quarter of Brits found that Christmas negatively affected their mental health.

Christmas has traditionally been a family-focused holiday, but not everyone has the opportunity to be close to their families during this time of year. For expats and migrants who might have family distributed all over the world, or people with difficult relationships with their family, Christmas can evoke feelings of loneliness and exclusion – particularly as the Covid-19 restrictions have prevented us from travelling. For people with lower income, the stress of buying gifts can cause negative feelings related to the festive season.

Your holiday marketing campaign can offer sympathy and comfort during a season which might not be easy for everyone. Be mindful of your holiday messaging and don’t assume that everyone is having a good time. Or, perhaps your brand can help to solve a pain point or problem related to the holiday – like helping to decide what to gift on a budget, making a holiday budget sheet or helping to connect families that are distributed around the world.

The bottom line?

We all have a different relationship with the holiday season, and being in touch with your audience is the only way to find out what the right approach is. If you want your brand to stand out this holiday season, and to make a real connection, don’t go for the one-size-fits-all approach. It might work for Christmas jumpers but it certainly won’t work for your holiday campaign.

Want more tips on how to plan and execute the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Campaign? Check out Mention’s latest guide here.

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