the true diversity of the holiday season
The annual “holiday season” is infamous among marketers as the busiest time of the year. It’s a time when many brands accelerate their marketing efforts and update their strategy to pack more of a festive punch. Demand for products is increased, competition among companies is fierce, and advertising costs peak to an all-year high.
This year in the United States, it is predicted that advertisers will spend upwards of 2.5 billion on holiday marketing efforts alone. The reason for increased marketing spends is obvious; the holidays are traditionally a time for gift giving, traditions with family and enjoying quality time with the ones you love.
However, it is critical for brands to remember that while 90% of the American population celebrates Christmas, only 46% observe it as a religious holiday. This signifies how increasingly diverse the population is and the need for marketing strategies that go beyond the obvious Santa Claus and gifts under the tree messaging. Many brands get so caught up in these traditional holiday marketing strategies that they fail to speak to the many different cultures, races and religions that make up our communities.
In recent years, more and more brands have begun to use more generic and inclusive messaging that speaks the common values associated with the holidays, like family and spending time with loved ones, in an effort to reach all religions, faiths, and beliefs. While taking a broader approach might feel like an inclusive strategy, it fails to recognize the dozens of other holidays celebrated by the culturally diverse American population happening throughout fall and winter. In fact, there are more than 29 holidays from November to mid-February that are observed by 7 of the world’s largest religions, and still, so many US brands only acknowledge one or two in their marketing efforts.
Inclusive marketing needs to go beyond showing people of many different backgrounds being featured in traditional holiday campaigns; truly inclusive marketing should no longer bucket all holiday efforts into one overarching strategy. There is a real opportunity for brands to no longer view their customers, both existing and prospective, as data points. Brands that begin to go the extra mile to understand the traditions, religious practices and cultural differences in our communities will come out on top; 80% of Millennials gravitate towards brands who champion inclusiveness in their marketing strategy, and Gen Z are set to become the most racially and culturally diverse generation to date.
The time to evolve marketing efforts to include more cultural holidays is now.
Take time to identify and understand your diverse audience
Overhauling your marketing strategy to be inclusive of cultural holidays cannot and will not happen overnight. Being properly inclusive of all people and beliefs takes time; start by analyzing your existing customer base. Begin with the location of where the largest chunk of your consumers reside, and then do some research into the population; what cultures live there? What is the most celebrated holiday? From there, you need to familiarize yourself with the traditions and practices associated with said holiday.
Taking a more localized approach may feel like extra work, but it’s essential to inclusive marketing to take the time to understand each culture, and their complexities. Doing so will pay dividends for years to come and ensure your company’ success.
Broaden your definition of holiday season
As we mentioned above, the vast majority of people in America celebrate Christmas, but less than half in a religious sense. The holiday season typically runs from Thanksgiving through the New Year, and while it certainly makes sense to roll out more generic holiday marketing strategies like post-Thanksgiving sale messaging, brands who begin to tailor their efforts to be more individualized to other holidays celebrated throughout the season will be that much more successful among emerging customers.
Once you have taken the time to understand the many different backgrounds and traditions of your consumer base, you can begin to identify what holidays you should factor into your annual marketing planning and budget. It is critical that brands don’t engage in tokenism; when including different religions and traditions, it needs to make sense and be respectful. It must speak to your target group on a deeper level and be relatable to their lives, habits, and interests.
Diwali is the time when consumption of products and goods is at its highest for South Asian Americans, and Ramadan is that time for Muslim Americans, so your strategy for marketing to South Asian Americans should certainly be different to your campaigns marketing to Muslim American consumers.
That is how brands build lifelong customers, by getting to know their customers, and what they value, on a much more granular level. Not all holidays will make sense for you to promote your product or service, and that’s ok. When you take the time to understand each culture and how they differ, the types of holidays you and your team can respectfully roll out will be much clearer. Plus, another benefit of including more cultural holidays in your marketing strategy is that you can avoid some of the Q4 digital rate hikes and spend a chunk of your budget on other key holiday messaging throughout the year.
Consult Multicultural experts
As we have laid out in this article, strategizing marketing campaigns that are respectful and inclusive of cultural holidays should be a top priority as we head into 2023. However, no marketing team can be expected to know the ins-and-outs of every religion, culture and/or religion. It is vital that culturally inclusive marketing be handled in a way that is well thought out, respectful, and doesn’t come across like you are trying to capitalize on a holiday to simply to drive sales. Cultures and their traditions should be celebrated within marketing campaigns, and enlisting the help of specialized multicultural agencies can help you do so successfully.
At MIKADO, our team has decades of experience in strategizing and executing multicultural campaigns, particularly those catered to different cultural holidays. We can help you understand how to market to ethnic groups because we understand how to position your brand in a way that speaks to the values and traditions of multicultural groups. Our team is composed of many different backgrounds and ethnicities, and over the last decade, we’ve helped some of the world’s leading brands navigate the new cultural norms. Check out some of our work including Knorr’s Lunar New Year Campaign and Thema’s Ramadan campaign to see how our team can help you make cultural holidays a focal point of your 2023 strategy.
Contact MIKADO now!