To reach women during the holidays, maybe marketers should turn up the “meh” and tone down the “merry.” A new study from Media Behavior Institute reports that for the average American female, the holidays are emotionally complex, and portraying them as stoked-for-the-holidays shopping machines may backfire.
The consumer insights company tracked women 18 to 54 throughout last year’s holiday season, and reports that while women’s enthusiasm is indeed genuine, their happiness is frequently tinged with frustration, a sense of being overwhelmed, and out-and-out sadness.
During Thanksgiving week, for example, 100% of the women included in the research say they were excited, with 93% describing themselves as “happy and loving,” and 62% saying they feel confident. While that certainly fits with the relentless merriment marketers include in their Black Friday-weekend messages, it doesn’t take into account that in the same week, 72% of the women also said they felt sad, 69% overwhelmed, and 52% exhausted.
As December wears on, the women in the study did maintain many of those warm-and-fuzzy feelings, but their confidence declined steadily, bottoming out at 48% by Christmas. And feelings of frustration and being overwhelmed kept climbing, reaching 81% and 68%, respectively, by Christmas Day.
Once the crunch of the holiday passed, women did hang on to the positive emotions, with 94% saying they were excited and happy during the week of Dec. 26, 82% saying they felt loving, 70% hopeful, and 53% confident. (Not to mention relieved, an emotion claimed by 70%.)
“While the holiday season is definitely enjoyed, it also represents an additional burden in terms of shopping, household management, cooking and fitting in more social activities related to work and family” writes Alice K. Sylvester, COO of the research company, in its report. “All that creates pressure, so we see the woman of the house not only juggling different responsibilities but also the different and conflicting emotions that the situation creates. Perhaps more brands should demonstrate they understand both the ups and the downs of the holiday season.”