The holiday season, stretching roughly from the tail end of the Thanksgiving weekend until New Year’s Day, is known for a lot of things: great food, time with family, and exchanging gifts, often under a decorated green tree. But it’s also known for marketing. TV channels, websites, and radio stations are annually overrun by a veritable (snow)storm of ads and marketing messages.
That’s because the holidays are a massively important time for retailers. Many businesses, in fact, make a significant portion of their yearly revenue from the holiday shopping spree alone! Those businesses rely on clever marketing that resonates with their core audiences to make the most of the season.
But though modern advertising, with its multimedia creative materials and omnichannel strategies, is a relatively recent invention, holiday marketing, in general, is such a classic tradition that it’s practically an inseparable element of this cheerful season!
To understand the evolution of holiday marketing, we first have to turn back the clock to the late 19th century in Victorian England and America. Both countries were in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, and storekeepers made tidy profits crafting and selling bundles of toys to kids around Christmastime. Those shopkeepers quickly discovered that marketing their goods over the holidays saw impressive returns, and they began to devote more of their surplus revenue to posters, magazine advertisements, and – later – radio ads.
By the early 20th century, the holiday shopping season was an integral part of both England’s and the United States’ economies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this coincided with the rising popularity of department stores. Consumer spending was so intense that “big box” stores started popping up around both countries to take advantage of the demand for new goods (the first, Meijer Superstore, opened its doors in Michigan in 1962). For the first time, consumers from the growing middle class had a much wider range of possible presents to purchase than they could imagine.
By this point, holiday marketing truly came into its own, transforming into an industry-defining phenomenon that heavily benefited from the accessibility of radio and television. Marketers had even more channels with which to advertise to potential consumers, and the allure of a profitable holiday season inspired brands to plan their holiday campaigns in the summers before each winter.
Toy advertisements, donation drives, engagement campaigns, and much more – they’re everywhere during the holidays. The advent of the Internet, of course, only magnified the importance of holiday marketing – who doesn’t get a dozen different holiday emails with reminders about abandoned carts or special deals in their inboxes throughout December, right?
Throughout the rest of the month, this blog series will examine some of the most successful holiday marketing campaigns to ever sweep the country and explore how important their themes and methods are in modern marketing approaches.
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