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Digital Marketing Demystified | How Festive Marketing empties your pockets

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Ever wondered where all your money vanished to during the festive seasons? It’s no Bermuda triangle mystery in fact, you were more than happy to indulge in these guilty pleasures because of the tactics marketers use to tug with your heartstrings. Read on to find out how it’s done so you’ll become 1) an opportunistic marketer and 2) a savvy shopper.

As 2020 came to a close, life returned to the malls and streets with the all-too-familiar decorations, jingles, and festival merchandise.

We are slowly getting back some semblance of normalcy in our island city-state (while still masked up and staying socially distant, of course).

Festivities such as Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year give us opportunities to commemorate long-standing practices and traditions. More importantly, we get to spend time and recharge with our loved ones.

For avid shoppers, these events are also the best times to snag exclusive festive deals.

Some companies can even create new occasions altogether to propagate their sales agenda. We're all but too familiar with birthday sales from Zalora to Pomelo, and even Lazada and Shopee.

From 1.1 Sales all the way to 12.12 Sales, we wonder if there's ever an end to this.

Over the years, consumers are becoming more tech-savvy. We learn about festive limited-edition goods through a phenomenon known asfestive marketing’. Companies cleverly peg their product or service to festivals and pump in crazy advertisement spending. This ensures that the deals we’ve been thinking about will persistently surface during our daily scroll through social media platforms.

Yet, festive marketing is not just about employing aggressive tactics that bombard a consumer across all fronts. Therein lies a deeper level of sophistication that taps into the psyche of consumers. This could look like the delicate crafting of messages that speaks to them on an emotional level during the festive hoo-ha.

In this article, we'll break down the magic behind why festive marketing works through the lens of tactics employed by marketers during Lunar New Year in Singapore.

Let's break it down: What is festive digital marketing?

McDonalds engaging in Festive Marketing through National Day advertisements on Facebook
Mixing up National Day with old school nostalgia | Credit: McDonalds
USS' Halloween Horror Night Marketing Advertisement
What's Halloween without USS's Halloween Horror Night? | Credit: RWS

You might have come across an exponential increase of promotional posts through your routine scroll on Instagram, or even receive huge promotional discounts on newsletters in your email especially when it's close to a festive season. That's the 'Digital' bit in Festive Digital Marketing.

Festive Marketing is the capitalisation of a festive season as an opportunity to market a company’s product or services. This is done through weaving in cultural elements and traditions directly into a company’s marketing efforts.

Businesses worldwide (including Singapore) love festive marketing. Aside from boosting company revenue, they are able to bring awareness to their brand through elevating consumers’ experiences with the product or service. They do so by relating with their consumers’ emotions, and reinforcing their brand name as a way to replicate the desired feeling associated with the festive occasion.

Disney's use of Festive Marketing during Christmas, through a brief 3 minute animation
The power of a Mickey Mouse doll in bridging generations | Credit: Disney UK

Take for example Disney UK’s "From Our Family To Yours" campaign launched in Christmas 2020. The short 3-minute animation tells the story of a relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter through their yearly ritual of making star lanterns every Christmas. Their bond is centered around a Mickey Mouse soft toy, which has been a consistent figure in the early years and even into adulthood of both the protagonist and her granddaughter. In doing so, Disney UK is associating its brand mascot, Mickey Mouse, as a symbol of enduring kinship that stands the test of time and transcends generations. This cements their brand message as “the happiest place on earth” to build lasting familial bonds.

Burger King's attempt at Festive Marketing through a Whopper promotion during DC's "Birds of Paradise" movie release
Bring a picture of your ex and get a free Whopper! | Credit: Burger King

Another successful example of festive marketing was Burger King New York’s partnership with Warner Bros. Valentine’s Day 2020 campaign. Burger King timed the release of DC’s new film Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) with an exclusive burger line-up. The twist comes in the release of flame-grilled Whopper burgers promoting Anti-Valentine’s day, true to the protagonist Harley Quinn’s psychotic nature. Customers can bring a printed photo of their ex, letters or even stuffed animals to selected Burger King restaurants to be exchanged for a Whopper. Burger King was able to put a playful and unconventional spin to their Valentine’s Day campaign by capitalising on the emotions of bitter lovers.

Do they work?

Despite the pandemic, nearly four in five (78%) of consumers in Singapore are expected to shop for the holidays according to a 2020 Visa Back to Business Study. A survey conducted by Nielson US studying the intentions behind holiday gift spending found that consumers are discerning when spending. This means even though consumer confidence is not shaken, they're expecting to take full advantage of flash deals, steep discounts, or limited offers that they deem worthy.

Around the Christmas season period in December 2020, some brick-and-mortar stores such as BHG and Harvey Norman and e-commerce platforms saw double-digit growth in sales. Some customers were even willing to travel to the store just to shop during the festive sales for the aggressive discounts. Many items previously priced as ‘expensive’ were now sold at a cheaper price, driving many to make full use of the offers and promotions.

The annual Single’s Day or better known as the ‘11.11’ sales was popularised by Alibaba after they picked up the trend of men celebrating their singlehood across China’s college campuses in the 1990s. It was formally launched on 11 November 2009, becoming a holiday celebrated by unmarried people encouraged to treat themselves with gifts. Since then, it has spread to the likes of all kinds of individuals and became the biggest online shopping day, winning over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. In 2019, Singles Day saw a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of $38.3 billion in 2019 for Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, a shocking increase of 26% in 2018’s sales and making them one of the world’s biggest eCommerce players.

So, how do companies make full use of the Lunar New Year calendar?

Traditionally, Lunar New Year lasts for 15 days, with each day tied to a unique cultural significance. Due to the recent pandemic, these practices had to be improvised. Companies made full use of the celebratory period to push their marketing agendas. Common tactics could look like extending their sales period, increasing the time frame for the ‘offer’ deals, or even clearing their limited edition stocks that were exclusive to the season.

Take a look at both Bossini Singapore and Takashimaya Singapore who extended their ‘post Lunar New Year’ sales till the end of February in 2021.