8 Haziran 2017 Perşembe

The Economy Of Special Occasions

Special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Saint Valentine’s Day or Teachers’ Day have a special place in most people’s lives. The origination story of Mother’s Day, that has been celebrated recently and is regarded to be relatively more special than all the other special occasions, is as meaningful as the day itself: Mother’s Day had first appeared in 1908 as Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother’s life and accomplishments after her passing away. In 1914, it was recognized as a national holiday in the United States as proclaimed by Congress. The purpose of such special occasions which had emerged with divine intentions such as honoring and reminiscing a memory or not letting it fade away and the ways to celebrate them began to change gradually over the course of years as brands and marketers started to enter the game.      

As these special occasions approach the most important issue becomes “what gift to buy” and this might be considered to be a significant result of the brands appropriating these days. It would be safe to argue that the special occasions have created their own economy especially when we take into account how important they have now become.

To illustrate, according to a research conducted in the United States in 2016, approximately US$ 21.4 billion was spent on Mother’s Day gifts. And in 2017 this figure has increased and reached US$ 23.6 billion.

Father’s Day is another special occasion that is among the forerunners in terms of gift economy, although to a lesser extent with respect to Mother’s Day. The highest forecasted Father’s Day spending so far has been recorded in the year 2016 with US$ 14.3 billion expected to be spent on Father’s Day gifts. However, this record-breaking figure is still 40% below that of Mother’s Day in 2016. A survey conducted in the United States puts forward two theses as to why more gifts are bought for mothers: The first one argues that the emotional bonding with mothers is much stronger than the emotional bonding with fathers. And the second one states that there are more gift options available for mothers.

When we look at the amount of endeavor and money invested by the consumers, these special occasions are in themselves a gift for the brands. Pursuant to maximizing the advantage of such an opportunity, huge discounts and various sales campaigns are organized in a wide array of categories each year. Notably in recent years, brands who want to stand out among others in the cacophony of discount and sales oriented messages and gain not only mind or market share but also a unique place within the consumers’ hearts are inclined to running campaigns with more emotional content.
For example, Pierre Cardin has launched an emotional campaign for Father’s Day in 2016. With its “One Day Job” campaign, it allowed for people to buy gifts for their fathers, the payment of which reciprocated with their own labor. “One Day Job” comprised giving away shirts to youngsters labeled as “Father’s Day gift” in exchange for working at the Pierre Cardin stores for one day. What made this campaign so special, particularly for the ones without a job, was that it presented an opportunity to disrupt the vicious circle of buying gifts for fathers by paying for them with the allowance received from the fathers themselves. The campaign was awarded an Effie in the “Success in Special Occasions” category and received highly positive reviews.

In such an environment where special occasions stir a huge impact, marketers and admen have started to manufacture “new generation special occasions” in addition to the already existing ones. Most of these new generation special occasions are product oriented; “National Ice Tea Day”, “National Donut Day”, “National Chocolate Day”, “National Pancake Day” are to name a few. Many brands have started to utilize these newly created occasions as a communications opportunity to address consumers with variously formulated campaigns.

On “National Ice Tea Day”, Starbucks gives away ready-to-drink Teavanas to its customers. The famous pancake restaurant chain IHOP serves its customers free pancakes on “National Pancake Day”. But apart from only offering free pancakes, IHOP tries to tie it to a meaningful purpose and requests its customers to make donations in benefit of children in exchange of free pancakes.

One of the most popular new generation product oriented special occasions is the “Coffee Day”. Even though the coffee days designated by countries fall into different dates, the “International Coffee Day” is set on November 1. A good deal of brands around the world celebrate International Coffee Day with various special events, campaigns and free coffee offerings. Dunkin Donuts has engraved this day within consumers’ minds by organizing contests and offering specialty coffee varieties since 2010. International Coffee Day has started to be observed in Turkey, too and last year Starbucks celebrated it with its “buy one [coffee] get one free [coffee]” campaign.

It is not as easy as one would expect to make these “new generation special occasions”, which may at first sound hilarious most of the time, be officially recognized. It involves an ardous application process that begins with a pre-requisite approval by a committee of experts. It is known that after filling in the forms, a substantial amount of fee has to be paid as well. The committee only accepts 25 of more than 15,000 applications it receives each year. Because of such high demand, the application has been rendered available only to ad agencies and corporations.  

At Behavior Institute, we have conducted a research in order to find out the reflections of these special occasions in Turkey, the ways they are celebrated and what kind of an economy they have created here. Our research comprised of 105 females and males who are 15-45 years of age, AB/C1/C2 SES and live in İstanbul.

We have started our research by primarily asking questions about Mother’s Day that was celebrated a few weeks back. 84% of the interviewees stated that they are celebrating Mother’s Day. Among them, 72% celebrate either their mother’s or other mothers’ Mother’s Day. The percentage of those whose Mother’s Day is celebrated is 4%. The percentage of those who both celebrate others’ Mother’s Day and at the same time whose Mother’s Day is celebrated is 24%.  

87% of the interviewees who celebrate Mother’s Day said that they had bought gifts for their mothers/loved ones this year or in previous years. Majority of the mothers whose Mother’s Day are celebrated said that they had received gifts before. The gifts that were bought the most are clothes, flowers and jewelry. Among other gifts mentioned are chocolates, scarves, perfume, kitchen and household utensils. We have observed that there is no specific brand within the interviewees’ minds for Mother’s Day shopping. It has been stated that gifts could vary according to needs, they are chosen so as to make the recipient happy and clothing stores are often preferred for shopping.
Opinions regarding special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Saint Valentine’s Day are dichotomous: Half of the interviewees find such occasions insignificant since they have merely become tools for marketing purposes and the other half says these occasions are lovely and pleasing as long as they are not exaggerated and they even regard them positively since they enliven the economy.

82% of the interviewees have bought gifts for others on special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Saint Valentine’s Day. 80% have received gifts from others on special occasions. It has been said that the gifts are bought mostly for anniversaries, Saint Valentine’s Day and birthdays. Among other occasions where gifts are bought are New Year and Teachers’ Day.

36% of the interviewees follow campaigns run by brands on special occasions. When their opinions were asked regarding such campaigns, some positive remarks such as “they are advantageous” or “special occasions are a good opportunity for product promotion” were received as well as the negative ones such as “receiving frequent messages”, “being pushed for shopping” or “prices should be reasonable at all times, not only on special occasions”. Nevertheless, 44% of the interviewees stated that campaigns offered by brands on special occasions motivated them to go shopping.
38% of the interviewees said that they could recall brands that run campaigns on special occasions. Cosmetics and personal care products stores such as Gratis or Watsons and jewelry stores such as Atasay, Zen or Altınbaş are the ones that were mentioned the most. Among others that came to mind are sports stores such as Adidas or Puma, suit stores such as Damat and clothing stores such as Zara, Koton, Boyner or LCW and others like Arçelik, ciceksepeti.com and hepsiburada.com.

When special occasions they know other than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Saint Valentine’s Day were asked, the answers received are Nurses Day, Women’s Day, Teachers’ Day, Day of Persons with Disabilities, Chefs Day, Lawyers Day and Labor Day.

The ones who have heard/known of special occasions that are more on the novelty side and which we call “new generation” make up 27% of the interviewees. Among these novelty special occasions World Water Day, Street Dogs Day, Autism Day, Bicycle Day, Cigarette Boycott Day, Animal Rights
Day, Sports Day, Extinct Animals Day were mentioned...

The research findings show that even though half of the interviewees have a negative perception of special occasions because they have become a marketing tool and highly commercial, when it comes to buying gifts most of the interviewees do not reflect their attitude on their behavior and actually contribute to this commercial system. As a result of these special occasions having such an important economy in the world, it is probable that in addition to the “classical special occasions”, “new generation special occasions” will develop in time in our country. There is a lot to do for the brands in Turkey in this sense and we will witness how this opportunity domain will be utilized all together.

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