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Marketing the Day of Thanks

Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, many “things” traditional for marketers have never been the same. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has for more than a century been the one day the whole country headed for the stores to kick off the holiday shopping season whether ecommerce or brick and mortar. Prior to 2020, it was as if the consumer had been trained to lay back and chill out until the unofficial, official shopping race to Christmas day began.

Once the clock struck midnight on Thanksgiving day, the shopping experience became a manic assault on sellers who opened their doors in the wee hours of the morning and offered substantial, special deals and discounts to entice consumers into a Black Friday event. Barbara Kahn, a professor of marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania said, “Black Friday used to be a trigger for people to go to the store, but as it’s morphed into a general promotional season, Black Friday itself lost its magic, its sense of urgency.”

For retailers, the entire month of November has become a bonanza of marketing opportunities with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday combining in an end-of-month free-for-all bid for consumers’ attention and dollars. With so much attention to the month’s end, Thanksgiving-themed marketing is one of the more underused opportunities to pitch a brand and market its products to the meaning of the day.

Thanksgiving Day has long been a day to be grateful for our many blessings throughout the year. For businesses it is a good day to promote community service to those less fortunate with free meals, aiding the homeless, and volunteering time to help those in need. Supporting community events can help showcase a brand’s philanthropy to its customers and the community as a whole.

When utilizing online digital channels, personalize well-wishes for the Holiday with team images, messages, and color palettes that reflect the season. Add seasonal hashtags to social media posts, target keywords that your customers would use to search for your offerings, and dress products and services in season regalia. Invite followers to share favorite holiday memories and topics they find engaging. Show appreciation to loyal customers with seasonal notes and emails of thanks and appreciation. Create a special event around the traditions of the Holiday and provide gifts of appreciation for those who attend.

“Before, Thanksgiving weekend was really the start of the shopping season. Now, we look at it as more of a halfway point,” says Katherine Cullen, the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s senior director of industry and consumer insights. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday are hallmark events that have a very important place both for consumers and retailers, but within a broader context of a longer shopping season.”

But perhaps the message most important to remember is that Thanksgiving Day is a holiday for giving thanks. A day when we realize that regardless of the challenges each year brings us, we all have much more to be positive and thankful for as a society than ever before. As Charles Dickinson said in terms spoken from his time in history, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

May Thanksgiving this year and all the years to follow bring everyone an abundance of reasons to be thankful each day. Happy Thanksgiving!