Consumers want another commercial holiday

20 February 2019 5 min. read
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A recent study has found that shoppers want another commercial holiday like Valentine’s Day or Black Friday, but one that focuses on letting consumers “celebrate” themselves.

On the NBC television program "Parks and Recreation," two of the characters celebrate an annual, personally created commercial holiday during which they pamper and spoil themselves. The holiday is based around the simple idea that you “treat yo'self” to whatever you want, including clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas, and fine leather goods. 

According to a quick scan of YouTube comments on a clip from the aforementioned episode, the idea resonates. User SolrSurfr3 wrote, “I need to take up this philosophy. One day a year, just binge on something that makes me happy.” The comment received 77 “likes.”

How much would you be willing to spend to celebrate a new commercial holiday that resonated with your wants and needs?

A study from consulting firm A.T. Kearney has found that American consumers would be receptive to a “me-focused” shopping holiday, if retailers were to create one. Of 1,000 US respondents, 35% said they want a commercial holiday that celebrates themselves. When asked what a “Me Day” holiday would look like, the most popular response was “a spa day.” As commercial holidays are unofficial shopping holidays created by retailers, it would probably make sense to situate it on a Saturday, if people want to “spa out.”

However, 36% of those surveyed responded that they would want the shopping holiday to “celebrate others.” Drilling down into the numbers shows that younger consumers are more interested in a “treat yourself” holiday rather than another “treat others” holiday. Those aged 18-24 preferred a “me” holiday by a margin of 48 to 31, while 25- to 44-year-olds preferred it by a lesser margin, of 38% to 31%. Those aged over 45 preferred a commercial holiday focused on others.

"Self-indulgence sells – especially to Millennial and Gen Z shoppers,” Patricia Hong, partner and head of the A.T. Kearney’s luxury and beauty sector, said.

Which categories would you be most interested in purchasing during a new commercial holiday?

For those respondents that picked an others-based holiday, the focus was approximately evenly divided between pets, friends, and family. But even here lies an opportunity to attract millennial dollars. “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," Hong said.

Millennials have less money and are marrying less and having fewer babies, but they’re increasingly cramming pets into that family-sized hole – with significantly higher rates of pet ownership than the general population. And if they see their pets as “family,” they’ll buy more stuff for them. 

In terms of a “treat yourself” holiday, 52% of overall respondents said that they would spend between $50 and $200, while a further 30% said they would spend more than $200. The median spending amount of $100 was double that of the “treat others” survey respondents.

Value can trump discounting

Respondents were more favorable to experience-based spending rather than product purchases, with travel and dining, and entertainment being the top two picks, at 18% and 15% respectively. Apparel and footwear ranked third among overall respondents, at 12%.

For men, electronics ranked as the third most popular splurge, at 17%, while women’s third most popular pick was beauty and personal care purchases, at 14%.

As for what would incentivize consumers to spend money on the holiday, the single most popular choice was a “discounted retail price” – unsurprising given the discount-oriented nature of other commercial holidays like Black Friday and Prime Day. However, A.T. Kearney points out that “value” options like free shipping and returns (14%) and gifts with purchase (13%) are also big incentives.

When asked where they would like to shop, 53% preferred online, while 33% preferred physical stores. In the online category, 31% selected websites as their first choice, 16% picked mobile apps, and 6% said they would purchase though social media.