This year we witnessed the once in a lifetime event of “Thanksgivukkah,” when the first full day of Hanukkah also falls on Thanksgiving day.
On November 29 and December 2, it was the “same old, same old” — with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and specials full of hype, crowds and extra servers. The events fell well into the eight-day Festival of Lights, with retailers wondering about the impact of an early Hanukkah on holiday sales this year.
Sadly, we did not see a creative approach to this unusual gap between winter holidays. On November 1, 26 days before the first Hanukkah candles were lit, retailers could have had a “Blue Friday,” with specials geared towards both Hanukkah shoppers and early Christmas shoppers.
After all, we know that Holiday shopping is not just for December anymore. A recent PriceGrabber.com survey found 32 percent of consumers start holiday shopping in October and 30 percent in November. The survey honed in on Hanukkah shoppers and found that 31 percent will buy a few gifts prior to the holiday and then take advantage of deals after Thanksgiving. Fifty percent said they will look for retailers running early sales this year.
But while a lot of fun and creative Thankgivukkah merchandise (cue 227 Etsy items), recipes (yes, I made a Maneshewitz Brined Turkey) and even a Facebook page popped up, there did not seem to be any significant attempt by American retailers to address (and measure) the Hanukkah shopper this year — or in past years. Why is this?
The main reason is that the Jewish American population is quite small, representing only a little more than 2 percent of all Americans (Pew). That said, 25 percent of Jewish Americans say they have a household income exceeding $150,000, compared with 8 percent of adults in the public as a whole. So with more buying power and an extended holiday (”eight crazy nights” as Adam Sandler sings), it seems reasonable to try more direct marketing and messaging.
This October, Pew Research published a fascinating study called the “Portrait of Jewish Americans.” Its findings around a rise in interfaith marriages since 1950 could be quite informative to retailers as there are probably more households celebrating two, not one, winter holidays these days.
Retailers are not simply missing out on an opportunity to address Hanukkah shoppers and reach them with specific messaging. They are missing out on an opportunity to expand every American’s understanding of what the holiday season means and even encourage a bit of cross-cultural behavior.
The next Thanksgivukkah will fall in the year 79,811. Lets hope we have a better plan in place by then.