What do cultural festivals, anniversaries, and special days (Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day) have in common?
Well, beyond the festive buzz, there will always be a certain annual rhythm in how things build up to a crescendo, infused with traditions, rituals and customs that date back to time immemorial. These beloved practices are often part and parcel of our collective heritage, bonding us and helping to shape our individual and collective identities.
Naturally, festive occasions also present widespread opportunities for marketing – especially after the year-end bonus period!
Beyond embracing the usual norms that accompany each occasion, inventive companies should also create their own rites and rituals of purchase and consumption. Some of these have become so ingrained in our society that we have embraced them as part and parcel of our own heritage and culture.
Examples of such rites – both large and small – include the following:
– Presenting flowers and chocolates to a loved one (or a romantic target) during Valentine’s Day.
– Popping of champagne to celebrate a joyous occasion – from the birth of a child, marriage of two sweethearts, to the arrival of a much awaited job promotion.
– Singing “Happy Birthday to You!” and blowing out the candles on a birthday cake (probably the most common ritual in the world).
– Adding a slice of lime to a bottle of Corona beer and drinking it straight from the bottle without a glass.
– Giving a household item to a friend/family member/colleague for his or her housewarming party.
– Licking of the cream from an Oreo’s biscuit before eating the rest of the biscuit.
– Drinking an ice-cold Milo after a strenuous and sweaty sporting event.
– Queueing up overnight to purchase the new iPhone/iPad/insert Apple device.
– Presenting an invaluable item of gold jewellery (often a key for its symbolism) to one’s daughter on her 21st birthday.
Rites and rituals offer a certain warmth and stability to our lives in a fast moving world where change is the only constant. The advent of hyper-connectivity fostered by social technologies and the mobile web gives the illusion of time speeding up faster than ever, leaving many us stressed and breathless in trying to catch up with the Joneses (or Tans or Muhammads or Muthusamys).
In the world of marketing, rites and rituals play a critical role in fostering demand for one’s goods and services. The best companies not only ride the waves generated by major festive occasions and celebrations – they create their own rites and ingrain them to be part of a society’s cultural consciousness.
Of course, it isn’t easy to transcend the hordes of competitors to “own” a rite or ritual. One must ensure that one’s product and service offering is remarkable enough to gain social traction amongst one’s target groups before engineering such a tradition. A keen understanding of one’s consumers is also necessary, to ensure that such a practice can fit nicely into their psychological and social frameworks.