Consumers are looking for something different out of the calendar year, bucking old holiday traditions for entirely original occasions—and creating all-new spaces for brands to step in.
At first, there was just Valentine’s Day. A day loved by many and dreaded by even more. Then, in 2010, Parks and Rec protagonist Leslie Knope introduced a new iteration of the holiday: Galentine’s Day. Shortly after, the critically acclaimed holiday took on another iteration and became the infamous Singles Awareness Day. Which, contrary to popular belief, is actually meant to be an empowering holiday for those who aren’t cuffed. (Yes, we had to look it up too.)
The fact is, holidays can sometimes have that generic feel to them—the very opposite of what consumers are interested in today. Not surprisingly, the tired holiday tropes have led many people to seek out alternative ways of celebrating what matters to them, carving out spaces between conventional holidays across the calendar year to create occasions they better identify with.
While each “new holiday” may not have super mass appeal, it’s worth brands paying attention to what consumers are claiming, and how they can forge new shopper pathways to meet them there.
Keeping Things Light and Simple
Recently, a second approach to celebrating Thanksgiving emerged and quickly became a staple holiday in Millennial culture. According to a Kantar ShopperScape® 2018 study, a whopping 43% of shoppers have participated in Friendsgiving. It’s growing popularity is a trend that can likely be attributed to a few different shifts and factors at play, such as people being too far away from “home,” or choosing to avoid those famously toxic conversations with extended family members. But what it really boils down to is that people want to spend their time where they feel accepted. The alternative fall holiday inspired several brands to gather round the table in 2019—like Postmates’s “Friendsgiving on Demand” campaign that provided shoppers with pre-made lists of recipes and required ingredients they could purchase through the app, keeping the holiday easy and fun for all.
Finding Different Ways to Play
For those brands that don’t readily resonate with a widely accepted holiday, whether traditional or an alternative one on the rise, it doesn’t mean they have to sit on the sidelines while their target audiences find engagement elsewhere.
Take Dry January, a recent phenomenon that has one in every five Americans participating. Benefit Cosmetics seized on the timing to roll out its new line of hydrating skim primers. The brand’s “Emporieum” kicked off the new year with a two-day pop-up bar for beauty lovers participating in “Dry January,” where cleverly named mocktails inspired by the new product line were poured—like “Hit the Dance Pore”—and beauty experts helped match customers with the right primer for their skin.
As empowered consumers stake out new occasions and redefine old ones, marketers should take advantage of these trends as a creative challenge to find new and different ways to join the celebration, or buck it, accordingly. Think of it as an opportunity for brands to further acknowledge consumers’ identities and specific needs. Talk about a healthy relationship, right?