How Culture Impacts American Holiday Celebrations

With the holidays officially underway, we took a look at how American consumers prepare for and celebrate the winter holiday season. 

December 7, 2022
Jack Mackinnon – Director, Product and Content

Relying on findings from its multicultural Holidays & Occasions research, we examined how culture impacts several end-of-the-year holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Kwanzaa.

Collage Group viewed each occasion across racial and ethnic demographics, signifying how brands can utilize these findings to better connect with diverse consumers through marketing.

Read on and fill out the form for an excerpt from our
Multicultural Holidays & Occasions presentation.

Thanksgiving

Most Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, as 93% said they recognize the occasion. And it’s no surprise that food is the main attraction, as 50% say making meals from scratch is what they enjoy most. The number two favorite part of Turkey Day is in watching football, according to 38%. Number three? Viewing movies or TV specials – 35% said television is a large part of their Thanksgiving routine.

In examining Thanksgiving through the lens of race and ethnicity, we see that watching Thanksgiving Day football is the second most enjoyed pastime for Black (43%), White (43%) and Asian (29%) consumers. Hispanic Americans, however, said decorating their home is the second most enjoyed part of Thanksgiving.

Not to be outdone, the “Friendsgiving” holiday get-together is prevalent for many consumers, with 30% of Americans of all racial makeups saying they celebrate the gathering.

It is worth noting that most multicultural consumers add non-traditional foods to their meals, including 70% of Hispanic consumers and Asian consumers. 

Supermarket chain Publix is a brand that has been effective with its Thanksgiving advertising. During 2021, Publix released a creative campaign celebrating various ways to partake in and enjoy the holiday.

They were able to seamlessly include different people from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. The commercial also did a great job highlighting the unique ways families and friends experience Thanksgiving Day.

Collage Group’s CultureRate:Ad methodology shows consumers respond positively to spots that target specific demographics in ways that appeal to the broader population. Ads leveraging these “halo effects” offer a highly efficient approach for increasing returns on advertising investments, now an important marketing component in an uncertain economy. 

When discussing Thanksgiving campaigns, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two very popular occasions for consumer brands. Collage Group’s research indicates that these occasions are particularly popular for Black and Asian Americans as a kick-off to holiday shopping. Hispanic Americans, however, tend to skip the hoopla, saying they shop throughout December.

Christmas

Like Thanksgiving, the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, with 93% saying they like to partake in the festivities.

When asked whether their Christmas celebrations go beyond typical “American” traditions, Hispanic and Asian consumers were more likely to say “yes.” Moreover, Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), Three Kings Day, and Las Posadas are all widely celebrated Christmas-time holidays for bicultural and unacculturated Hispanic shoppers.

Collage Group’s research found that while Asian Americans enthusiastically take part in Christmas celebrations, unfortunately they are regularly an underrepresented segment in terms of holiday media content.

But excluding Asian Americans, underrepresenting them, or just failing to target them in Christmas advertisements is a major oversight. Asian consumers partake in the holiday like everyone else, with their own customs and traditions, so brands should absolutely work to make a connection.

Kwanzaa

While Kwanzaa – a celebration of African heritage and culture – may not be as mainstream as the other end-of-year holidays, it is presently observed by about one in every five Black Americans.

Thirty percent of polled Black consumers, and 17% of Hispanic consumers, said that all brands should recognize the holiday through its marketing or advertising.

How to Authentically Connect During Winter Holidays

Brands should focus on authenticity, especially when activating on a holiday that is celebrated by a specific racial or ethnic segment, such as Kwanzaa. Depending on the brand, this can include a simple celebratory posting on a social media page, helping to educate the broader community about the holiday, or partnering with in-segment content creators to tell their personal stories related to the holiday.

Another tip is for brands to highlight what is non-traditional about traditional American holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated across racial and ethnic segments, but many multicultural Americans have other traditions based on their heritage and upbringing. Showing the range of how Americans commemorate will attract many consumers, particularly those who are multicultural, and those who have different ways of celebrating.

Other Holidays & Occasions Research Articles and Insights from Collage Group

Jack McKinnon

Jack Mackinnon
Director, Product and Content

Jack Mackinnon is a new addition to the Collage Group syndicated research team. He brings consumer insight expertise across Multicultural, Generations, and LGBTQ+ segments.

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