We understand that Christmas is one of many cherished holidays celebrated throughout the world. For retailers, Christmas—often referred to as the “holiday season” in the US and “Christmas holiday season” in many other countries—is one of the busiest times of year. Our goal with this article is to provide global retailers with insights to help them craft holiday marketing campaigns with finesse and cultural sensitivity. In the retail world, few events compare to the excitement of the holiday season – a time when sales surge and marketing campaigns shift into high gear. Celebrations that started as local traditions have now become global phenomena thanks to the proliferation of digital channels. Retailers today have the ability to reach and engage audiences worldwide and, along with opportunities, this great power comes with great challenges.
Global reach means retailers often find themselves navigating a sea of diverse customs and traditions, where the very same holiday can take on different meanings in different regions. While it may be tempting for Western cultures to assume that Christmas universally equals snowy landscapes and a religious ambiance, cross-cultural marketing principles urge us to look beyond our own cultural lens when crafting global holiday marketing campaigns for a diverse range of cultures.
And here, the challenge emerges: How can global retailers craft effective Christmas marketing campaigns tailored to markets with distinctive holiday season customs in the midst of the bustling festive season?
1) Plan Your Christmas Marketing Campaigns Early and with Cultural Awareness
The sooner you embark on your holiday retail marketing planning, the better. Start by researching your markets and gaining a deep understanding of their local holiday customs and traditions. For example, while some regions emphasize the religious meaning of Christmas, in other regions it is a secular festivity. In Japan, for instance, Christmas is celebrated with a flair reminiscent of Valentine’s Day. For them, Christmas Eve is synonymous with romance, and couples exchange gifts and enjoy romantic dinners.
Early research and planning offers ample room to align your promotions, messaging, and visuals harmoniously with local customs. It allows you to craft successful holiday marketing campaigns that not only acknowledge the diversity of customs but resonate deeply with local traditions – forging lasting connections with your international audiences.
2) Seasonality Matters: Tailor Your Product Assortment
When planning your global holiday marketing campaigns, seasonality plays a pivotal role. And it’s not only finding the right message and imagery that matters. Selecting the right product assortment that suits your audience (in their geographical and cultural context) is of great importance.
Consider Australia, where the holiday season coincides with the sun-soaked summer months. Down under, Aussies aren't dreaming of a white Christmas, they're hitting the beaches and enjoying outdoor barbecues. Traditional winter accessories that drive gift sales elsewhere, like gloves or scarves, will hardly be suitable there.
Across the globe, seasonal variations impact purchasing behavior. To deploy successful holiday marketing campaigns worldwide, brands must demonstrate agility in curating product assortments that align with regional climates and cultural expectations. Tailoring your product selection will help guarantee the success of your global Christmas marketing campaigns.
3) From Holiday to Post-Season Sales: An International Holiday Calendar
Holiday retail marketing planning doesn't end with the holiday season itself. Post-season sales, which typically occur immediately after, require careful consideration, too. Crafting a global holiday marketing calendar can feel a bit daunting for marketers, since each country follows its own sales calendar guided by local regulations that govern the nature of local promotions. This certainly poses a challenge for marketing teams, but preparing for a smooth and smart shift from holiday to post-season sales – right on time in every market – unveils numerous opportunities for global retailers. For example, in regions where the holiday season aligns with early sales, they can leverage the opportunities for overlapping promotions this creates to launch tailored, market-specific campaigns.
Successfully navigating the challenges and opportunities of the holiday season demands a culturally aware approach. The key to success lies in early planning coupled with cultural research and an understanding of the different realities our global audiences live in – in an effort to align your global strategy with local traditions and expectations. By doing so, global retailers will not only ensure a successful holiday marketing campaign but also set the stage for building lasting connections with their international audiences.
If you ever find yourself in need of expert guidance, get in touch with us. Our global retail consultants can help you craft an international holiday marketing calendar and tailor your global Christmas marketing campaigns for maximum cultural relevance and local impact.