Holiday Marketing: It’s Not All About Tradition

Posted on by Sarah Hardwick

The holidays are just around the corner. REI encouraged customers and employees to #OptOutside on Black Friday. Lands End’s photographic, multigenerational We Believe In You Campaign focuses on relationships between family and friends. And American Girl Doll is announcing its “Get a Friend. Give a Friend” to match purchases of a doll with one for a child in need.

With research pointing to evidence that the majority of purchasing decisions are made from the heart, the holiday marketing season presents an ideal time to tap into people’s core values. The best seasonal campaigns engage customers and make them feel a deeper connection with your brand.

For many of us, the holidays evoke images of mistletoe, Santa, and the kids opening presents in P.J.s on Christmas Day. But, it’s important to realize these messages won’t resonate with everyone. Smart marketers who want to stand out from the crowd this year may consider alternatives to a tradition-focused campaign.

What does your brand represent? And what most motivates your top customers? Are they most focused on obtaining pleasure in their lives, exploring unknown territory, or ensuring the security of their families? These are the questions marketers need to ask. By understanding where your company’s and your best customers’ values intersect, you can glean insights on how to connect more deeply.

Values types wheelThe Six Primary Value Drivers

Over 40 years of psychological research has proven that values are one of the most powerful drivers of purchase behavior. How we prioritize them speaks to the heart of our identity–where we live, what we do, the brands we buy. Going far beyond demographics, values segmentation can offer richer, more actionable strategies to communicate to specific customers.

Though tradition is a big part of the season, the following examples show that it is not the only way to reach customers.

6 Values-Based Marketing Campaigns From Holidays Past

Value: Freedom
Company: British Airways

Brittish AirwaysPeople that prioritize freedom over other values tend to be efficient, organized and systematic. They tend to examine situations through intellect versus emotion. Though they seek out the company of others, they find the most peace when alone. Psychological profiles of Freedom Seekers show that they care about quality and practicality, perform self-guided research before making purchases and are least likely to be swayed by advertising.

British Airways reached out to its audience with its touching, freedom-focused thank you campaign in early December 2014. The video celebrated and commemorated the year with photos from customers’ travels around the world. The campaign also included personal recommendations from customers on places to explore in the New Year.

Value: Purpose
Company: TD Bank

TD BankLet’s put it this way, if a Purpose Seeker was a shoe, they would be an arch-supporting therapeutic shoe. Purpose Seekers are dedicated to giving back and aim to support and aid where needed. They tend to be compassionate and empathetic and put the health and safety of others before themselves. Research shows that Purpose Seekers tend to be eco-conscious, compassionate and cooperative. They prefer to purchase experiences versus material goods and often like to shop local.

Last November with its Make Today Matter campaign, TD Bank posed: If you could help your community today, what would you do? It gave 24 people an opportunity to make an impact with $30,000 through #MakeTodayMatter. Ideas ranged from making homes more accessible for the disabled to giving underprivileged teens makeovers. The video has garnered over 3.5 million hits and received earned media from outlets all over the world.

Value: Tradition
Company: Harry & David

Harry and DavidResearch shows that people who pursue tradition over other values tend to be compassionate and cooperative, family-oriented and brand loyal. Tradition Seekers often prioritize the health and interests of their loved ones. They may be older and more politically conservative. They may also be swayed by advertising and often prefer direct mail.

Harry & David celebrated its long history with its #‎80yearsofmemories contest, launched at the end of October 2014 to target the tradition of its brand. Customers were asked via social media to send treasured stories and photographs inspired by a Harry & David gift. Followers voted on their favorite golden memory. 

Value: Achievement
Company: Mulberry

MullberryAre your top customers driven to achieve success and receive recognition from others? Individuals that prioritize achievement over other values often seek to be respected in their communities and enjoy being the “host with the most”. They are likely to be highly educated and tend to be active on social media, tech savvy, and brand conscious.

Mulberry tapped in to the heart of the Achievement Seeker with its #WinChristmas campaign. One video shows a young preppy-dressed woman unwrapping Christmas gifts from her family and boyfriend, each better than the previous. A hand-painted portrait, an adorable puppy and a unicorn didn’t come close to the best gift from Grandma: a fuchsia Mulberry Bayswater. 

Value: Security
Company: Fruit of the Loom

Froot of the loomIf your customers prioritize stability and protecting their families over other motivations, they could be Security Seekers. Psychology shows that Security Seekers go out of their way to make sure that their choices are good for their families. They tend to prefer safe, practical purchases. Individuals in this group are often loyal customers and like to be a part of customer loyalty programs where they get special discounts and coupons to satisfy their desire to get the best value.

Fruit of the Loom taps into the inner desires of these individuals with The Rules of Underwear Giving. The campaign educates people on whom you should give underwear to for a gift (family) and who you should not (anyone else!)

Value: Pleasure
Company: West Jet

West JetIf your customers aspire to pursue a life of pleasure and self, versus spiritual, gratification, they may be Pleasure Seekers. People who prioritize pleasure tend to value fun and excitement. They are commonly tolerant, moderate and believe that everyone should have the freedom to express their own views and act as they wish. They may be less concerned with price, brand loyalty or safety. Often, they prefer to stand out from the crowd.

WestJet’s wildly successful Christmas Miracle campaign from December 2013 is a great example of relating to this group. With over 42 million views, the video shows passengers telling an electronic WestJet Santa what they most want for Christmas—from socks and underwear to gadgets and a big screen TV. As their plane flew, WestJetters set to work purchasing and wrapping presents. Passengers got a heart-felt surprise as they were greeted by Santa and their gifts at the baggage claim, proving that miracles really do happen.

As these examples show, the holidays mean different things to different people. A one-size-fits all approach to marketing is no longer enough. Targeting your message based on shared values is the key to evoking an emotional response, building loyalty and lasting brand awareness.

Sarah Hardwick is the founder and CEO of Zenzi Communications.

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