As we recover from an underwhelming Black Friday and stay hopeful for a successful holiday sales season, it’s time to update holiday lists for 2016. Shifts in shopper behavior, combined with a more global marketplace are leading to new traditions and shopping occasions. It would behoove all brands, retailers and Santas to add these days to their plans or run the risk of an empty stocking by year’s end.
1) International Women’s Day – March 8: My first new holiday plays sweetly into the push for gender-equality. IWD recognizes women for all their achievements, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation or economical division. Though created in the U.S. in 1909, it wasn't until 1975 that the United Nations officially designated the day. Today, IWD celebrates all women whether moms, daughters, girlfriends or professionals, and it’s gaining prominence with brands as well. It's a great way for brands, businesses and people to show their affinity for the women that keep them flourishing. Expect to see new gift solutions in retail and more brands engaging with their female community online. Just don’t do this.
2) and 3) Solstice Celebrations — June 21 and Dec. 20: The solstice comes twice a year on the longest and shortest days of the year. Though believed to be rooted in pagan rituals, today there is nothing witchy about it. It’s become a day for family and friends to come together and bask in nature as long as (literally) humanly possible. Brands and retailers with a strong Pinterest presence (this means you, Target) should tap into this trend with party ideas, recipes and new rituals. Retailers and entertainment brands should take note that this adds another shopping occasion outside the noisy traditional holidays of Christmas, Memorial Day and Independence Day.
4) Prime Day – July 15: To celebrate the anniversary of Amazon, they coined July 15 as Prime Day. Conveniently, the date is also a day clear of other promotional activity. And who doesn’t want a little Christmas in July? Although this year’s inaugural Prime Day was met with mixed reviews—mostly over the types of products offered—Amazon intends to annualize it. Be prepared for retailers to step up their competitive plays to keep shoppers in their stores and on their own ecommerce sites. Expect Amazon and other retailers to engage new customers with exclusives, limited editions and big ticket items that people want versus need. Good deals on CPG brands, especially subscriptions for products used all year, will also help build baskets at a time when everyone is looking to indulge themselves.
5) Singles Day – Nov. 11: Speaking of indulgence, did you miss the excitement from retailer Alibaba? I expect our younger demographic didn’t. In a world consumed with couples and family-inspired holidays, Singles Day is the perfect counterpoint. Created at Nanjing University in 1993, it got the name “Singles Day” because the date (11/11) consists of four “ones.” It’s a day for single people to treat themselves or party with other single friends, and now that younger shoppers are more globally connected than ever before, expect to see U.S. singles celebrating it soon. Singles Day gives them the perfect reason to indulge with gifts like bigger beauty and electronic purchases. Though some retailers, like Walmart, did lean in to the day last year, they were too seduced by the repetition of the numbers rather than playing into the shopper behavior of treating themselves. As Black Friday moves earlier and earlier, expect many more retailers and luxury brands to get in on the Singles Day action in 2016. We can only hope they find someone as entertaining as Alibaba’s Jack Ma to bring home the fun, as well as the deals.
Regardless of these five specific days, it is important to recognize that the world is getting smaller and more personal. With younger people creating their own traditions born of a global view, we’ll see many staid behaviors switching into new spaces. Young shoppers are no longer defined by their parents’ traditions, they’re creating their own, and they appreciate brands and stores that understand their desire to reinvent the world on their terms. These five holidays are an example of just that and should be added to any smart marketing calendar for 2016.
The big takeaway? Look at global social trends and then passionately seek new ways to break out of the clutter and profit from emerging shopper behaviors. Early adopters will be rewarded with sales wins year-round, and a decreased dependency on winning the crowded holiday season. And, quite frankly, Santa may appreciate taking a little of the load off his reindeer as well.