American consumers want a new commercial holiday, one that unlike other holidays lets them celebrate and reward themselves. The only problem is, so far, retailers have failed to create one for them. This has been disclosed in a new study by AT Kearney which involved 1,000 consumers. The aim was to know consumers’ attitudes toward commercial holidays.
The study 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 AT Kearney defines as an unofficial holiday, centred on shopping, created by a retailer, brand, or manufacturer.
Almost a full third (31 per cent) of respondents to the AT Kearney study reported interest in seeing a new commercial holiday during the first quarter of the year, and 21 per cent 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, and 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 per cent 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 AT Kearney research of Millennial and Gen Z shoppers, 18- to 24-year-olds are ~1.5 times more likely (48 per cent) to want to celebrate a “treat myself” holiday than average consumers (32 per cent). 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 per cent 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 per cent) than plan on cutting back their spending (12 per cent).
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 per cent of respondents—32 per cent of female respondents and 35 per cent of men— with apparel and footwear a close third. Beauty and personal care ranked number three for women (14 per cent), while 17 per cent 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 AT Kearney and a member of the Consumer Products and Retail Practice and head of the firm’s luxury and beauty sector. “Earlier AT 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.”
Hong also believes the survey shows retailers how they can reenergise 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 AT Kearney study found value can trump discounting. Free shipping/returns and receiving a gift with the purchase were motivators for 27 per cent of survey respondents, while discounts were a motivator for 20 per cent. As to how and where they would prefer to shop, only 33 per cent indicated a preference for physical stores. Thirty-one per cent of consumer respondents indicated their first choice would be a website, 16 per cent a mobile app, and 6 per cent said they would purchase through social media.