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In a valiant effort to make something good of 2020, statistics show that Gen Z are turning to “micro holidays”—smaller, less mainstream events that lend themselves to social distancing, while still allowing for the festivity we all crave this time of year. We have the insights you need to understand how Gen Z is celebrating this holiday season.
Come October 14, 2020, classes won’t be cancelled and work won’t be closed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a national holiday. It just might be one you’ve never heard of: National Kick Butt Day. For those feeling less feisty, don’t fret. Just a few days later, there’s National Cheese Curd Day, followed by National Pasta Day, and National Sweetest Day, which is all perfectly fine, because October 20th is National Sloth Day.
If you’re paying attention, especially on social media, you might have already known about some of these micro holidays. (If you have National Bologna Day on your calendar, please slide into our DMs, we want to meet you.)
And while these niche holidays might not have the marquis appeal of Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving, they’re becoming more and more popular thanks to, you guessed it, the pandemic—and Gen Z’s affinity for the unique. In a recent report, Pinterest shared that this year, their users are planning even the little in-between holidays as if they’re big ones. In past years, about 4 in 10 Pinners said they care about micro-holidays like Friendsgiving or New Year’s brunch. But this year…7 in 10 say they’ll celebrate the smaller moments.
This makes sense—especially since people are nervous about gathering in large groups and with elderly relatives, which has always been the norm with traditional holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To compensate, people are instead turning to smaller moments, like Halloween and Friendsgiving, for joy and comfort. This will be especially true for Gen Zers who might be stuck quarantining at college and not able to return home for the holidays. Or, if they do, they will celebrate with only a few people. Like Gen Z college student Haley, who says:
“I’ll probably go all out for all the holidays, big and small, since there is nothing else to do and I can’t really see anyone.”
Take Gen Z college student sophomore, Lilli. As someone who typically doesn’t acknowledge these mini moments, she says that’s changed this year:
“This year, my respect for micro holidays has grown. During such a tumultuous time, it’s good to have a break in the depression and monotony with little things like Friendsgiving or Halloween. Before, the smaller holidays seemed unimportant—either I was too busy or too disinterested, but now I have nothing to do but think about what I’m missing out on from years past.”
So how will Gen Z ‘go all out’ when they can’t really see anyone? Likely it will be online via Zoom or something similar, and with small groups of friends. Gen Z student Lilli says:
“I will celebrate within my bubble of friends and eat foods that are related to the holiday or watch a movie. I don’t want to do anything that undoes all the social distancing I have been doing thus far.”
In the context of staying safe but having fun, especially at a time when Gen Z needs it most, here’s a brief to-do list for brands wondering how to reach Generation Z in the midst of 2020’s micro holiday season:
Don’t overlook the opportunity to just contribute as a way to connect and give value. You don’t always have to be selling. Post pictures of how you and your colleagues, even pets, wear your ugly holiday sweater, and ask for submissions. (Keep reading for ideas on engaging with Gen Z.)
For example, do you have to be an apparel brand to post about an ugly sweater micro holiday? No. The question to ask is, would your Gen Z customer be interested in participating in a conversation with your brand about an ugly sweater? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then perfect.
(If no, keep looking, there’s no shortage of mico holidays to co-opt as your own. You can find an exhaustive list sorted by month here; and here, sorted month by month, but also by topic.) Once you’ve found something that will resonate with Gen Z preferences, you can start a fun dialogue that might just convert to a sale.
These are just a few ideas for using micro holidays in your brand’s Gen Z marketing. The possibilities really are endless. And as silly as some of the micro holidays may seem (we’re looking at you Pluto Demoted Day), they can be a compelling and worthwhile way to promote your brand and gain awareness and affinity with Gen Z.
Whatever micro holiday feels right for your brand, have fun with it. You’ll possibly be helping Gen Z find joy with friends and family, no matter where they may be. As this is the year of so many firsts, why not find time and room in EOY budgets to go major on a minor holiday? You may be surprised at the results.
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