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Sparking Convo: Are Retailers Representing Every Holiday?

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Holiday season is just around the corner and retailers are already starting to advertise for their in-store deals and sales events to help drive traffic. The holiday season is an important time for retailers as they prepare for their final push to increase sales before the start of the New Year. Retailers will spend the next few months putting in all efforts to grab shoppers’ attention to help boost their holiday sales, which account for roughly 25% of yearly profits for most large retailers.

The holiday season for retailers is a time to boost sales and make up for any losses that occurred during the year, but where does religion play its role in the holiday season for retailers? The United States is a melting pot of cultures and religions; however, the majority of Americans (~76%) identify themselves as Christians, which means that Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday in the U.S. during the “holiday season.” Although retailers are focused on driving sales and not advertising to a specific religious sector in an attempt to appear non-denominational, this statistic does have an impact on how retailers advertise during the holiday season.

Although there has been a surge in political correctness across the nation, holiday advertising represents an aspect of our culture where one sect of people is targeted more directly than others. Retailers know they are going to gain sales regardless of the religious beliefs of the person viewing their ad, so there is a greater emphasis to put out non-denominational holidays advertisements.

One retailer in particular that geared their advertising towards Christmas for the holiday season in 2011 was Macy’s. Two of their notable ads from last year were “A Million Reasons to Believe” and “Santa’s Mailing Address,” both of which spoke directly to Christmas instead of the general holiday theme. Although most retailers and brands might not be this direct in their focus, there are many subtleties within store and within holiday advertisements that allude to Christmas as opposed to any other religion that celebrates during holiday season. The use of red and green color schemes is one example of this, as well as decorations of Christmas trees and ornaments that are predominantly associated with Christmas.

An anomaly to this trend in holiday advertising is Coca-Cola, who throughout the years has created a non-religious based approach to their holiday advertising. Coca-cola is often credited with creating the modern day image of Santa Claus, which appeared in their advertisements from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. It wasn’t until 1993 that Coca-Cola made a shift in their holiday advertising to embody the spirit of the holidays and use animated polar bears, which are meant to represent winter and the holiday season without catering to a specific religion. These polar bears also represent family and coming together for the holidays, which is a universal theme for all holidays regardless of religion.





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