Friendsgiving 2021: How Should My Brand Celebrate?

It’s not too late to activate! With over 30% of Americans (and 40% of Gen Z and Millennials) celebrating “Friendsgiving,” brands will want to make their mark on this growing tradition. Keep reading to learn what consumers expect from brands like yours this Friendsgiving.

“Friendsgiving” is a holiday tradition adjacent to Thanksgiving. It’s an opportunity for friends to gather with friends in addition to, or instead of, with family. While Friendsgiving may sound like the latest fad or a “cutesy” holiday, it’s a legitimate way younger generations celebrate—and it’s likely to stick around.

Read on for key facts about the holiday, insights on how younger American consumers celebrate the Thanksgiving season, and ideas for how your brand can get involved.

What is ​Friendsgiving?

Friendsgiving is an informal bonus holiday that started gaining traction in 2013. The origin is unclear, but the term caught on via social media and it’s surged in popularity with younger Americans in recent years. Nowadays, Friendsgiving is a seasonal staple with about four in ten Gen Z and Millennials celebrating.

Holiday Stress Chart

Friendsgiving celebrations often take place sometime before Thanksgiving, as a precursor to the big day. But for many young adults who live far away from home and family, Friendsgiving acts as a substitute to the more formal family feast. It’s also a reflection of shifting family dynamics. Young adults today are delaying marriage and parenthood at greater rates than previous generations. This factors into their emphasis on friends, neighbors, and coworkers as a “chosen” family.

Moreover, almost half of Gen Z and Millennials cite amily as a source of stress around holidays. It’s no wonder, then, that many turn to their friends for comfort and joy.

Friendsgiving Celebrations

Since Friendsgiving is such a new way to celebrate Thanksgiving, it isn’t confined to the well-established traditions of Turkey Day. Rather, it’s open to interpretation—which may be just what individualistic younger generations find appealing about it. Many Friendsgiving celebrants incorporate a mix of classic Thanksgiving elements and personal flair. This means that brands have ample room to play in connecting with younger generations for Friendsgiving.

One way that Gen Z and Millennials are evolving Thanksgiving-season celebrations is by including non-traditional foods. Two-thirds of younger Americans do this, likely driven by the generations’ inherent diversity as well as their desire for novelty. Friendsgiving, free of socially imposed “rules,” offers the perfect opportunity to try out new and exciting flavors, experiment with recipes, or to share one’s culture through food.

Graph illustrating groups that have more than Thanksgiving dishes

Brand Activation

Two brands that have developed an excellent Friendsgiving campaign that appeals to Gen Z and Millennials are Amazon and S.Pellegrino. These brands partnered together in 2020 to create a virtual, shoppable “Guide to Friendsgiving.” The online storefront features videos and recipes by Kristen Kish, an LGBTQ+ Korean-American culinary expert and Top Chef championIn this pandemic-friendly activation, Kish connects with her friends via video chat to recreate their favorite recipes with a twist. From the site, shoppers can download recipes and purchase ingredients to be delivered by Amazon Fresh.

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