A simple question for retailers as we near the end of November: Do you know what your shoppers are doing for the holidays this year?

For many people, Thanksgiving means turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie — typically homemade and deployed in large quantities at family gatherings. For others, the holiday norms have changed — or the traditional Thanksgiving must-have’s and must-do’s were never part of their holiday experience.

Category Partners recently surveyed 1,000 consumers about their Thanksgiving plans to answer questions like these: What percentage of shoppers plan to prepare a meal and host their own event versus travel to someone else’s home for a meal prepared there? How many people plan to instead buy a prepared meal or go to a restaurant? Are there folks with no plans at all?

You can read about the results of that research on ThePacker.com, but wouldn’t it also be valuable to understand those dynamics for your specific shoppers? Are they more traditional in how they celebrate Thanksgiving, or are do they live far from family and partake in a “Friendsgiving” event instead?

Do they cook everything themselves, or do they want to buy prepared side dishes or even the whole meal from their local grocery store? Simple surveys of your region can give you a pulse on some of the shifts taking place.

Listening to your shoppers and what Thanksgiving looks like for them — or Christmas, or other holidays, for that matter — should give you ideas for creative marketing as well. What came to my mind is the role of the smartphone.

Only a few years ago, when I missed the big family event because I lived in Detroit and covered the NFL’s Lions (who always play on Thanksgiving), my mom and I connected on Skype, and she passed her computer around the dinner table back in Kansas City so everyone could say hello to me.

When our family got together again just recently, we reached the out-of-town folks on Facetime and Marco Polo — and as I looked around, I realized that most everyone in my family (including my grandparents) had their cell phone sitting on the table while we ate.

Maybe the marketing inspired by that tidbit includes images of video-chatting family members far away, or maybe the image is all the family members putting their phones in a bucket so they can actually enjoy one another uninterrupted for a few hours.

And how about families from different ethnic backgrounds? How do their Thanksgiving traditions look different from those typically associated with the holiday, or are they the same?

So many questions, and the only way to be sure of the answers is to listen to your shoppers.


Survey shows how demographic differences factor into Thanksgiving shopping

Thanksgiving in the produce department: Capitalizing on traditions new and old

Thanksgiving produce planning with Rusty Blade


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