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4 Brands Rethinking Holiday Marketing For Young Shoppers

How can brands keep from being frozen out of young consumers’ wishlists this winter? Here are 4 brands successfully driving holiday hype with creative marketing…

Over eight in ten Millennials & Gen Z told us they plan to shop for the holidays this year, and Accenture estimates they’ll be spending even more than they did last year. So far, their prediction’s holding true if Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday sales are any indication. TechCrunch reports that Thanksgiving Day online sales rose nearly 29%, according to Adobe, with mobile making up over one-third of the $3.7 billion day. And the rest of the weekend followed suit, with Black Friday’s online sales surging 23.6% and Cyber Monday raking in $7.9 billion, “making it the single largest shopping day in U.S. history,” according to USA Today. YPulse found that young shoppers played a major role in the surge, with 28% of 13-36-year-olds telling us they planned to shop both spending holidays.

But with Amazon taking a record-sized bite out of holiday spending, how can brands stand out and make merry with young shoppers? We culled through the holiday campaigns and found some that are going above and beyond a TV ad of a family of fire around the fire. While several focus on building their Brandoms with holiday apparel, many also opted for experience-driven activations—which remain important even as online sales dominate holiday spend. Just take it from Euclid, who found that Millennials were 14% more likely than Gen X and 6% more likely than Boomers to shop in-store on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and that 21% “almost always” showroom (purchase online after seeing a product in-store). Here are 4 brands that are getting creative to win a spot on young shoppers’ wishlists

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing1. Pillsbury

Pillsbury is filling select theaters with the scent of cinnamon rolls to turn themselves into a holiday staple, reports Ad Age. They’re pairing the scent with an ad about their product in the smell-a-vision campaign, to encourage viewers to buy their dough in the lead up to the holiday season. The experiential effort is coming to just 25 theaters and will precede family-friendly holiday movies like The Grinch. A series of TV spots and social media posts will reach those who can’t make it to one of the theaters as well. That’s not the only way they’re getting into the holiday spirit. Pillsbury also launched a line of “ugly” holiday sweaters featuring their dough boy mascot and classic holiday imagery (“Let it dough!”). As it turns out, these sweaters were exactly what their Brandom had on their wish lists—because the line sold out within two hours, according to bizwomen.


Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing2. Burger King

And on the twelfth day of Cheesemas, Burger King gave away $30,000. That’s right, Burger King is giving away thousands of prizes in their 12 Days of Cheesemas campaign, topping it all off with a $30,000 grand prize. The fast food restaurant that’s mastered the art of going viral again and again is giving away 8,004 instant win prizes like custom-made socks, ornaments, and other swag, along with 23,000 1-cent burger coupons. Delish reports that the gifts ramp up from there, including an iPad Pro, PlayStation 4, a 2019 Jeep Latitude, a trip to Bermuda, and much more. The campaign is driving app downloads by requiring potential contestants to download and order through the app to enter the contest, and each entry will count toward the final prize. You can keep your partridge in a pear tree, Millennials & Gen Z would rather have cash.


Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing3. Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark wants to become 21+ Millennials’ go-to alcoholic beverage this holiday season. Their new ads feature Scarlet Johannsson for some star power and target young people by highlighting “authenticity and craftsmanship.” But they’re not just counting on TV to get their attention, according to MediaPost. The bourbon brand is showing experience-seeking young drinkers the distilling process at their “Maker’s Wanted” pop-ups. In addition, they’ve redesigned their site to capture digital traffic, adding a link to ecommerce platform Thirstie for those who want to buy their bottles online. Marketing Dive calls the overall campaign “a full-court press to engage the [M]illennial consumers who have brought spirits—especially bourbon—back into the limelight.”


Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing4. Taco Bell

Will Taco Bell’s holiday apparel line make Gen Z & Millennials’ holiday wish lists? That’s right, the fast food favorite is coming out with another line of clothing for their avid Brandom, and Refinery29 has the pictures to prove it. Holiday imagery like Christmas trees and Santa Claus collide with the eatery’s fast food favorites on the exclusive collection which includes spicy holiday sweaters, loungewear, and even a packet-shaped pillow. And they’re not just warm from the fiery sauce: they’re made of cozy materials like fleece. Those aren’t the only products they’re launching to keep the season spicy: AListDaily reports that Canadian locations are giving out CrunchWrapping paper to promote the new Triple Double Crunchwrap. Fans better start adding pentagonal gifts to their holiday shopping lists to make it look as authentic as possible.


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