Believe it or not, American consumers are in search of a new commercial holiday—one that unlike Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day lets them celebrate and reward themselves. The only problem is, so far, retailers have failed to create one for them.
New research from management consulting firm A.T. Kearney examines U.S. consumers’ attitudes toward commercial holidays, and found that even as retailers struggle to create excitement in an increasingly calendar-driven sales cycle based on discounting, consumers are ready to vote with their wallets for a new commercial holiday, which the firm defines as an unofficial holiday, centered on shopping, created by a retailer, brand, or manufacturer.
Almost a full third (31 percent) of respondents to the study reported interest in seeing a new commercial holiday during the first quarter of the year, and 21 percent indicated they would prefer it fell in January, offering a chance to celebrate between New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.
The study asked consumers who a new holiday should celebrate
The answers were fairly evenly divided between “me” and “others”—with “others” more or less evenly divided between pets, friends, and family.
Regardless of whether the focus is on them, their family, or their family pet, shoppers are willing to pay for a new day. Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated they would be willing to spend between $50 and $200 on a new, “celebrate yourself” holiday. The median amount they were willing to spend for a new, “celebrate yourself” holiday was $100, double the reported median spend of ~$50 per holiday on “celebrate others” events.
Consistent with A.T. Kearney research of Millennial and Gen Z shoppers, 18- to 24-year-olds are ~1.5 times more likely (48 percent) to want to celebrate a “treat myself” holiday than average consumers (32 percent).
As to what a “Me Day” holiday should look like, the most popular response was a spa day
Asked about existing commercial holiday spending, 58 percent of respondents said they plan to spend the same on existing commercial holidays such as Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday as they did in 2018. More consumers plan to spend more on those days (29 percent) than plan on cutting back their spending (12 percent).
When it comes to how those dollars will be allocated, respondents showed more interest in “doing” than in “owning.” Travel and dining/entertainment were the top two rated categories for 33 percent of respondents—32 percent of female respondents and 35 percent of men—with apparel and footwear a close third. Beauty and personal care ranked number three for women (14 percent), while 17 percent of male respondents picked electronics as their third category.
“What we have uncovered is a clear, unmet consumer need for a new commercial holiday that rewards the shopper,” said Patricia Hong, a partner with A.T. Kearney and a member of the Consumer Products & Retail Practice and head of the firm’s luxury and beauty sector, in a news release. “Earlier A.T. Kearney research—such as our work on experiential retailing—provides a firm foundation that retailers can build off of as they design creative strategies to fulfill the need shoppers have for a holiday that lets them celebrate, treat, and/or reward themselves.”
Reenergizing existing holidays
Hong also believes the survey shows retailers how they can reenergize more traditional commercial holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. “If they want to pump new energy into these traditional events retailers need to look at the themes we’ve discovered and begin to create unique experiences for their shoppers,” she said. “Self-indulgence sells—especially to Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. And, at a time when traditional relationships are being redefined and people are more mobile and changing jobs more often, pets can take on the emotional significance formerly only enjoyed by family and friends.”
The study found value can trump discounting
Free shipping/returns and receiving a gift with the purchase were motivators for 27 percent of survey respondents, while discounts were a motivator for 20 percent. As to how and where they would prefer to shop, only 33 percent indicated a preference for physical stores. Thirty-one percent of consumer respondents indicated their first choice would be a website, 16 percent a mobile app, and 6 percent said they would purchase through social media.