After a year of studying young consumers in Western Europe, YPulse has found that the generations across the pond do have many things in common with their North American peers–but we’ve also uncovered some major differences. (For a full rundown of some of the biggest, check out our Gen Z 101: Western Europe webinar.) Despite living in a digitally connected world where the majority feel like global citizens, it’s inevitable that local cultures make their impact. Understanding the nuances of these differences and where brands can fit into unique rituals and norms is important. And that includes local celebrations and holidays.
In our recent WE Global Holidays Report, we asked Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe how they feel about American brands getting involved in their local holidays. The result is good news for U.S. brands: most young Europeans (67%) tell YPulse they like when American brands participate in non-American holidays. Young consumers in Western Europe are also very open to American brands participating in holidays, with three-in-four young Europeans saying they’re fine with that. And young consumers in Italy (80%) and the U.K. (78%) are the most welcoming of American brands. But when we asked them the more direct question, “Should American brands participate in non-American holidays?” the answer we received was more nuanced:
For many, approval on involvement depends on the brand and the holiday
Young consumers in Western Europe are not opposed to seeing American brands participating in non-American holidays. When asked, less than one in five young European answers with a firm “no.” But at the same time, nearly half of them are not quite sure, and their answer is “it depends on the holiday” or “it depends on the brand.” It is possible that young consumers in Western Europe feel a bit protective of their local holidays. This part of the world is full of different regional languages and traditions. There are many examples of local European holidays such as Oktoberfest (Germany), Chandeleur (France), and Bonfire Night (U.K.), just to name a few. All these local holidays reflect Europe’s diversity and cultural richness, and young Europeans want American brands to be part of the festivities, if it’s the right brand and the right holiday. In short: proceed with caution. .
And it’s because young consumers are afraid American brands might misrepresent them, or even worse, appropriate their culture
When asked if they agree with the statement, “It’s cultural appropriation if an American brand participates in a global holiday,” 49% said they agree somewhat / completely. Misrepresentation is also on young Europeans’ minds, with a majority of them (55%) agreeing that when American brands participate in European holidays they usually misrepresent them.
A few weeks ago, YPulse explained how cultural appropriation is also a big issue on social media, (especially TikTok) and what brands can do about it. A brand wanting to get involved in a regional holiday in Western Europe should keep in mind that young Europeans are wary ofmisrepresentation. It’s not that they don’t like American brands—in fact, we know they love American brands!—it’s just that they fear American brands might not do their research, reduce to clichés, and in the end, be culturally insensitive.
American brands need to be cautious when reaching young consumers in Western Europe for their local holidays. But if they were to do so, what are the marketing techniques that young Europeans would like to see from brands? In YPulse’s recent WE Global Holidays Report, we asked young people in Western Europe to tell us more about what they’d like to see from brands around holidays, and gave them a range of marketing go-tos. Here are their answers:
Overall, Gen Z and Millennials want to see similar things from brands for the holidays: deals, holiday-themed content, and recipes are on top of the list
When they think about what they’d like to see from brands when it comes to holidays, both gens’ top choice is to receive discounts and deals from brands. This should not come as a surprise. With inflation being Gen Z and Millennials’ biggest problem they say they face at the moment, both gens are being cautious about their spending. But as you’d know from our WE Mass Merch Mentality Trend Report, young Europeans always like a bargain even in normal times! Holiday-themed content is also really appealing to them. And — of course — Gen Z is less likely than Millennials to say they like to see recipes from brands when it comes to the holidays (we know for a fact that it’s the end of foodie culture).