Hanukkah is one of the most overt holidays on the Jewish calendar. The main point of Hanukkah is to “publicize and celebrate the miracle” so everything you’ve seen or heard about Hanukkah – the lights, the gifts, the dreidels, and the “8 crazy nights” – is pretty much on the ball. Though not everyone would agree that these 8 nights are too crazy!
With 99% of the fanfare and publicity going to the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s shopping season, a smart business won’t overlook Hanukkah. Here is some “oil-free” food for thought about Hanukkah and your bottom line:
The “Before/After Christmas Holiday
Generally, Hanukkah’s 8 days of gift-giving are a great “before/after Christmas” sales opportunity. Because Hanukkah is set by the lunar calendar – in which dates of Jewish holidays can shift significantly – the 8 day holiday can either fall the weekend after Black Friday or even as far as during Christmas (except in 2013 when, in a rare occurrence, it falls before Thanksgiving). Any products you haven’t sold out of yet for Christmas can always be promoted to the Jewish market; it’s a great holiday to fall back on the Jewish market for new sales. Instead of heavy discounting excess inventory on December 26th, make it a minor discount and promote to the Jewish community.
Hanukkah lets you sell a variety of great products instead of simply the hot one.
Every big box retailer is kvelling to sell the iPad, iPhone, tablet, flat screen, GPS, anything that is currently “hot” in an effort to draw in the masses with the hottest and newest. After all, Christmas is one day and if your gift isn’t a homerun, you have to wait until next year to make amends. Hanukkah offers 8 days of gifting and 8 days of “supplementing” a major gift or buying 8 smaller gifts in lieu of a major one. With that in mind, there’s a significant chance the Jewish consumer will outspend the average American consumer during the holidays. Instead of simply spending $330 on the latest iPad mini, the Jewish consumer may purchase an iPhone for one night, along with a specialty case (2nd night), the Bose speakers (3rd night), the car dock (4th night), the Beats headphones (5th night), Bluetooth headset (6th night) as well as giftcards for three dozen of the best apps (7th night) and five dozen songs on iTunes (8th night). From this example, you can see how Hanukkah purchases can significantly outspend the average Christmas purchase. Yes, this is a very high end example and yes, the average Christmas spend in 2012 is $854 per family, but it’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to gift something small but significantly priced each night of Hanukkah. Instead of merely aiming to sell the “hot” product, try to sell as many primary products (iPhone) and supplemental products (cases, giftcards, speakers) as you can!
Christmas is a family holiday; Hanukkah is more of a community holiday.
While most businesses are closed for Christmas and time is spent with family, Hanukkah can bring business to the event industry over 8 days. Hanukkah parties, singles events, non-profit fundraisers, and the like are all timed during Hanukkah. Instead of celebrating a one-day holiday at home, Hanukkah tends to be celebrated through 8 nights of going out! There is generally one or two nights that are “reserved” for close family events/parties, but the vast majority of nights are spent celebrating with the community, friends, extended family and the workplace. Also, one should know that, unlike Sukkot or Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah has zero restrictions – meaning one can work, drive, travel, and spend all 8 days.
Small Business Shopping for a Smaller Holiday.
After Hurricane Sandy, there was another big push by American Express for Small Business Saturday, a shopping trend that is slowly catching on next to it’s siblings Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A small business located in large Jewish communities should use that pitch to get Hanukkah shoppers – just like Christmas is the big holiday, Chanukah is the small but significant holiday. I won’t go so far as to say Christmas is the Walmart of Holidays and Hanukkah is the Mom & Pop Shop, but the point is that small business should do their best to attract Hanukkah shoppers as well since the malls, Walmarts, and Best Buys are all competing for the same piece of the Christmas sales pie. Small businesses placing ads for Hanukkah or Kwanza in community papers will stand out more than the constant barrage of CHristmas ads, jingles, and themes. Go after the holiday that the big box retailers tend to overlook!
On an unrelated note, you may have asked yourself an age old question – What do Jewish people do during Christmas? Used to be a very simple answer – chinese food and a movie. Take a lesson from the creators of Borat , a film with numerous Jewish references – on Christmas night, the theaters were packed with Jewish moviegoers predominantly. If you’re a museum, entertainment center, arcade, or family destination that can benefit from a Jewish community that has off from school and work and doesn’t have any Christmas plans, try promoting your opening to the Jewish community.
So that’s what you should know about Hanukkah and how to benefit from this “overt” public holiday celebrated by the community. Happy holidays!