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How to Use Thanksgiving in Your Marketing Strategy

November 17, 2023 3 min read229

Thanksgiving, a time of turkey, parades, and pumpkin pie, is also a golden opportunity for marketers. Over the years, the holiday has evolved into a prime time for businesses to connect with their audiences.

As you might imagine, there’s a right and a wrong way to implement a Thanksgiving marketing campaign. This time of year, consumers are especially conscious of being sold to, and many are wary of their quality time with loved ones being hijacked by brands. As a result, it’s important to have a clear strategy for Thanksgiving content. 

Not quite sure what that means for your business? We’ll walk you through exactly what it takes to execute a thoughtful Thanksgiving marketing campaign.

Understanding the Thanksgiving Audience

As with most great campaigns, your Thanksgiving content should begin with a deep understanding of your audience. Importantly, It’s not enough to have an understanding of how your audience reacts to content during the rest of the year. 

Thanksgiving consumers may vary in their approach to the big day. Are they families prepping for a big meal? College students traveling home? Deal enthusiasts waiting for Black Friday doorbusters? Each of these segments will require a unique strategy, so make sure you understand where your audience falls.

Remember also that Thanksgiving is a US holiday. Be mindful of your international audience, and if most of your customers reside outside the US, it may make sense to skip the Thanksgiving mention altogether.

Last but not least, remember that this time of year, consumer behaviors shift. Many people are in a festive mood, looking for deals and gifts to kickstart the holiday season. However, some consumers prefer keeping Thanksgiving free from overt shopping themes. Be mindful of this in your promotional language to avoid alienating part of your audience.

Creating Thanksgiving Content

With your audience preferences in mind, you can start to lean into Thanksgiving themes throughout your November marketing. Gratitude, family, giving back, and fall festivities are at the heart of Thanksgiving, and incorporating these themes can help your consumers feel connected to your brand.

Since the end of Thanksgiving marks the beginning of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and December’s holiday gifting season, it’s also a good time to remind customers of any special offers or deals. Whether you’re offering a discount, a limited-time product, or a unique service, make sure your offers are enticing yet relevant to the season.

As you plan your content, remember that the key to a successful campaign is brand alignment. Consumers can sense when you’re taking advantage of a holiday just to push your product. Try to find a natural alignment with your brand, even if that means holding off on promotions until after the holiday is over.

Examples of Effective Thanksgiving Campaigns

Want to learn from the best? Here are three examples of great social media campaigns that lean into Thanksgiving themes.

REI’s Multi-Channel #OptOutside Campaign 

This REI campaign is the gold standard for a brand-aligned Thanksgiving campaign. Rather than driving consumers to its stores for Black Friday, the brand decided to close its stores instead, encouraging employees and customers to spend the day outdoors. 

The campaign used the hashtag #OptOutside and gained massive traction on social media. It resonated because it stood against the grain of typical Black Friday promotions, aligning perfectly with REI’s brand values of enjoying the outdoors and sustainability.

Whole Foods’ Instagram Stories Campaign

If you want to embrace Thanksgiving content more directly, learn from this Whole Foods example. In recent years, the brand has used Instagram Stories to offer Thanksgiving cooking tips, share recipes, and showcase its holiday products. 

This approach was effective because it provided valuable, timely content that catered to its audience’s needs during the holiday season. By offering practical advice, Whole Foods positioned itself as a helpful and essential part of its customers’ Thanksgiving preparations.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Live Tweets

Finally, back in 2021, Macy’s leveraged its iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade by engaging audiences on Twitter through live tweets, behind-the-scenes peeks, and interactive polls. The campaign kept users engaged and excited about the event, even if they couldn’t attend in person. This strategy was successful because it utilized real-time engagement, making followers feel like they were part of the experience.

Final Thoughts

Thanksgiving is a great time to connect with consumers, but it’s easy to overdo it. By putting time and thought into what will resonate with your brand’s audience, you’ll be more likely to succeed. When in doubt, a simple message of gratitude is always welcome! 

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