From red and green gift wrapping to ads plastered in Santa Claus, angels, and candy canes, we’ve all seen how a brand’s holiday marketing efforts often exclusively targets shoppers who celebrate Christmas. But what about all the other holidays celebrated this time of year? From those that have become a bit more popularized – like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa – to others that are still widely unrecognized – like Navratri and Diwali – the acknowledgment of these celebrations (and celebrators) in holiday marketing efforts is largely absent.
When customers experience feelings associated with exclusion and insensitivity or perhaps witnessed a blatant disregard for diversity, this can really take the cake! It not only hurts your public image and impairs the customer experience, but it also leaves your consumers feeling isolated and undervalued.
With the conversation of diversity and inclusion ranking top-tier, now more than ever it’s become critical for businesses to support this movement. A lack of acknowledgment and support of diversity and inclusion is harmful to your business relations and customer loyalty. In light of this drive for more inclusive environments, brands are being held accountable for their actions that fuel cultural, religious, and racial negligence.
So how can we do our part to resolve this issue? There’s no better opportunity for businesses to show their dedication to diversity and inclusion than the holidays, as seasonal shopping is led by the most racially and ethnically diverse generation – Gen Z. So when it comes to your marketing strategies and holiday campaigns, it’s important to appeal to this notion of and demand for inclusion.
Why Is Inclusive Holiday Marketing Important?
Generally, it can be a huge turnoff to your business if potential customers are greeted with marketing messages and campaigns that appeal to a singular audience – especially if they are not a part of or do not identify with that group. During the holiday season especially, exclusive, niche, and targeted marketing can be considered offensive, uninformed, or even discriminative.
While it’s critical to have a target audience in mind, you don’t want to unintentionally single out or isolate business based on very personal affinities and practices like religion or holiday celebrations. Unless you sell niche products like ornaments or Christmas decorations, then your business depends on appealing to and attracting audiences who celebrate Christmas exclusively.
Think of it this way: Exclusive holiday marketing is like giving one group of customers a bigger slice of cake than the others. It’s just not fair, especially considering the holidays are all about spreading cheer, giving, and making everyone feel special. So how can you do this while making all your customers feel equally valued and included? For maximum reach, positive customer experience, and a forward-looking public image, consider creating inclusive holiday marketing campaigns.
Just like a cake, your holiday marketing strategy has several layers, giving you many opportunities to swap traditional and exclusive targeting measures for more inclusive ones. To appeal to a greater audience and leave your customers feeling considered and valued, follow these tips to make your holiday marketing more wide-reaching and all-embracing.
Keep It Neutral (Like Vanilla Frosting on a Classic Yellow Cake!)
To create inclusive holiday messages, your safest bet is to keep things neutral. From visuals to content, taking an unbiased approach is the best way to avoid controversy and speak to a wider audience.
The first piece to consider in your holiday marketing campaigns is how you phrase things to your customers. Neutral holiday greetings and messages are the way to go! Instead of the traditional, and widely contended, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah,” try something more inclusive like, “Happy Holidays,” and, “Seasons Greetings,” or even, “Warmest Wishes.” That way, the first thing your customers are seeing in an email campaign or paid ad is a welcome message that resonates with everyone and not just one group.
We all know that any marketing strategy relies heavily on a creative team. So, get creative with your language. Brainstorm some common holiday phrases, and put your own inclusive spin on them. That way, your holiday greeting welcomes all customers.
Another creative and even more friendly approach is to ditch holiday language altogether and go for something inspired by the weather or the season. For example, use language that speaks to the autumn breeze or to staying cozy on cold winter days. Instead of generating greetings and messages surrounded by holiday terms, consider more seasonal language like “Warmest Welcome,” or, “Stay Cozy with Us,” or even, “A Harvest Hello from Our Store.”
Just like with the language you use, the theme of your marketing campaigns can deter or invite audiences depending on its inclusivity and message. Even though the holidays urge for festive themes, keeping things neutral may have better benefits.
For example, instead of featuring a campaign that embodies spreading Christmas cheer, consider perhaps embracing the spirit of giving and giving back. This is a great idea for an ad campaign, especially if your brand is actively promoting something charitable for the holidays, or even if you’re rewarding your loyal customers with a special holiday promo like a free gift.
Again, this calls for a bit of creativity – so have fun (fetti) with it. Consider some of the traditional holiday themes and neutralize them just a smidge. If you can make these themes apply to your brand or sprinkle in any rewards or holiday specials you may be featuring, even better!
If you’re well-versed in the world of eCommerce, you know the holiday blog topics are all the buzz. But if your brand is aiming to be a little more inclusive this holiday season, you should cook up more neutral content.
When it comes to blogs, creating content that is more seasonally driven can be useful to a wider variety of readers who celebrate all different holidays. Consider things like holiday checklists or gift guides, for those who do celebrate a holiday. If you want to be even more neutral, seasonal content (anything fall- or winter-themed) is another way to go.
The main point is that whichever content your brand is putting out there this season, make sure it will be useful and engaging for readers of all backgrounds. That way, you’re not only making serious strides towards a more inclusive holiday season, but you’re also reaching wider audiences and, therefore, getting more out of a single piece of content.
Graphics and Color Scheme
Featuring graphics and color schemes that are less holiday-oriented and more seasonal is another sweet way to make your marketing efforts more inclusive. For visuals, instead of including something traditional like a Christmas tree or a menorah, swap these graphics for autumn leaves or snowflakes. Your graphics should be more relatable than classic holiday symbols. Rather, your visuals should be something all audiences can experience or relate to.
When it comes to color, you don’t have to stick to the classic color schemes like red and green or blue and white. Although festive, these shades don’t resonate or relate to audiences who don’t celebrate these specific holidays.
An alternative is to make your color scheme more season-oriented. Consider a more neutral, but equally appealing winter- or fall-themed color palettes like burgundy and brown, silver and gold, caramel and grey, plumb or chestnut, or even plaids! As a result, your visuals still reflect seasonal colors and patterns but aren’t just appealing to or associated with one holiday.
Ditch the Holiday Messaging Altogether
While playing it safe isn’t always in the best interest of digital marketing strategies, for the sake of your customers and business, it can be a useful measure. If you want to air on the side of caution, you can forgo holiday-themed messaging – neutral or not – altogether. Instead, try to appeal to the shared values of your customer community and target audience.
Consider capturing themes of community, generosity, and the spreading of joy from friend to friend in your holiday marketing efforts. Speaking to shared and common human values this season is a way to embrace bringing people back together and supporting your customer community. This is also a way to avoid controversy or exclusion entirely.
Though this may seem like a sort of cop-out, it’s an opportunity to really get creative and try to understand your customers. Demonstrating that you have a strong understanding of and desire to cater to your customer’s needs and values shows your brand’s dedication to your consumers. If you ask us, this is the greatest gift of all.
Take Inclusivity All the Way
If you’re up to a challenge, we have another suggestion: Be outwardly inclusive by acknowledging all the other holidays celebrated this season. Though this may seem like a brave task to take on, it’s really as simple as a calendar, a bit of planning, and some social posts (we recommend Instagram or Facebook Stories for this one).
Featuring a story that shouts out a “Happy Holiday” is a quick and easy way to show your support for customers who celebrate all holidays. Just mark your calendar with the ones that will be celebrated over the next few months, get creative with a few social ideas (whether it’s a shout out from a team member, a themed graphic, or a linked informational video on the holiday) and demonstrate your dedication to supporting the diversity and inclusion of your customer base.
This strategy really goes the extra mile and it requires a bit of extra effort. But, if you’re looking to really rebrand your business as inclusive and make some serious strides in the marketing world, this could be your golden opportunity to do so. So roll up those sleeves and get ready to whip up some holiday social posts!
Don’t Overlook Feedback
The best way to learn how your marketing efforts can be more inclusive: feedback. Asking your customers directly for feedback on your brand’s strides to be more inclusive is a strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s an opportunity to not only engage with and respond to customer concerns – building trust and loyalty between your brand and consumers – but it also is the most efficient way to understand your weak points.
It’s really as simple as hosting a live stream (on Instagram or TikTok), sending out a questionnaire, or even featuring a poll with written feedback on your Instagram story. Whatever information you collect you can then use as a model when developing future holiday campaigns. The best way to satisfy your customers is to listen to them and give them what they want. At the very least, this shows your brand really cares and is dedicated to including all its customers this holiday season.
Want Top-Tier Marketing Strategies? Consult CAKE!
Now that you’ve got all the ingredients to whip up a season’s worth of inclusive holiday marketing strategies, let us handle the messy part! Contact CakeCommerce and our experienced team will design your holiday marketing campaigns according to your exact intentions.