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Brands Wish Millennials A Happy #Friendsgiving

The Friendsgiving trend is staying strong with Millennials, and brands are helping them celebrate…

According to our Thanksgiving survey, this year 20% of Millennials 13-33-years-old and 25% of 30-33-year-olds planned to have a separate Thanksgiving meal with friends—a.k.a Friendsgiving. It’s a trend we’ve been tracking for a few years, and one that more marketers are paying attention to.

Let’s take a quick step back for those who haven’t heard all about Friendsgiving before. The holiday invented by young consumers has taken over college campuses and urban friend groups alike, and is starting to become an important ritual for many Millennials. There are no real rules around what Friendsgiving entails. The Millennials we interview mention everything from game nights to cafeteria feasts to drunken potlucks. A perusal of Friendsgiving posts on Instagram shows pictures of takeout feasts alongside magazine-worthy autumn tablescapes. Regardless of what the gathering entails, the overall theme for all is doing things the way they like. No rules, just fun.  

The family drama and stress of Thanksgiving is taken out of the equation. One parent of Millennials thinks lack of judgment is one big reason the generation has taken to the holiday. That dad, also the infamous author of the Millennial Pledge, writes in the Los Angeles Times,  “A Friendsgiving is Thanksgiving with no baggage, no family tensions, no aging relatives you fear might expire right there on the couch. At Friendsgiving, no one sits in judgment over that awful spiced bourbon you love or the pajamas you wear to the table.”

Social media has of course played a role in spreading the Friendsgiving tradition. Every year, more Millennials are broadcasting snaps of their Friendsgiving feasts, and currently the hashtag #Friendsgiving on Instagram yields 319,122 and counting—that’s almost double the amount we counted at the same time last year. We’re also seeing new hashtags spawned in honor of the tradition. #Squadsgiving is beginning to rack up posts of potatoes and table settings as well—New York Magazine blames Taylor Swift.

Last year, we made note that brands have started to take notice of the Friendsgiving takeover. Paperless Post expanded its collection of Friendsgiving invitations for young users to send out. FreshDirect ran a #FDFriendsgiving campaign along with popular food blogs, throwing their own Friendsgiving feast and then providing shoppers with the recipes to the dishes that each food-expert guest contributed. This year, the number and category of brands that tapped into the Friendsgiving trend has multiplied yet again.

Ann Taylor LOFT continued their efforts to appeal to younger shoppers with a Friendsgiving themed email promotion earlier this month. Seamless wrote users and encouraged them to “order the ultimate Friendsgiving feast.” Instacart and Target teamed up to send a Friendsgiving Food Truck around San Francisco. Visitors were served holiday treats like sweet potatoes with chili orange glaze, and received recipe booklets with coupon codes to throw their own dinners. Absolute and Paper Mag partnered to throw a Friendsgiving themed event hosted by musician LIZ. Fusion TV created a flow chart to help Millennials decide whether they should invite their booty call to Friendsgiving.

Izze soda might have cooked up the most elaborate Friendsgiving marketing campaign. The brand created an Instagram hack that allows readers to pick the way they’ll be celebrating Friendsgiving (which they call #Friendsday). When clicked, each choice, which include options like “hosting a fancy dinner” and “making art,” leads to pages filled with recipes, Amazon links with Friendsgiving supplies, playlists, and more. 

If you missed the Friendsgiving boat, the tradition shows no sign of slowing down, so you might want to consider providing some ways to help Millennials celebrate #Friendsgiving next year.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here