Every year on March 17, hundreds of millions of people across the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This religious holiday has evolved over the centuries into a celebration of traditional Irish culture.
The origins of St. Patrick’s Day can be traced back to the 5th century Ireland and Saint Patrick, the patron saint who is said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland and established Christianity in Ireland.
In the 21st century, St. Patrick’s has become an occasion for some lighthearted fun that marks the beginning of spring. This is a day for Irish songs, drinks, including green beer, and laughs with friends in public parades, parties, or at home, no matter your heritage.
Based on St. Patrick’s Day statistics in recent years, we can expect 2020 to be yet another coast-to-coast party. Most celebrations take place in the US, with 32.7 million US residents claiming Irish ancestry in a 2015 census; that’s around 4 times the actual population of Ireland.
With a thought-out St. Patrick’s Day marketing campaign and a little luck, you too can tap into this $5.6 billion market.
But before you do, learn from the mistakes of others. Marketing campaigns can get controversial if negative Irish stereotypes are played up. So, as with any cultural holiday, be mindful and respectful in your promotions.
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Nothing boosts brand awareness like people engaging with your content. A good way to encourage this is to invite your followers to take part in St. Patrick’s Day social media contests.
Jameson Whiskey took a shot at this in 2017 with their #CheersYourJameson Instagram campaign. They asked followers to upload their most original picture or video of friends “cheersing” their Jameson. The winner took 3 friends to Dublin for St. Paddy’s.
This is a great example of an interactive user-generated content campaign. If you can tap into the spirit of the celebration and have fun with a creative promotion, as Jameson’s did, you’ve set up your campaign for success.
And you don’t have to offer the winner a trip to Dublin—one of your products will do just fine as a prize. Just remember: to motivate your followers to participate, the prize should be worth it and the content should be easy and fun to create.
How about a “Best St. Patrick’s Day outfit” contest to get people sharing pictures with your hashtag? Ask your followers to share their St. Paddy’s outfits to their Instagram Story and tag your brand. The more engaging and fun, the better.
Before you start working on your social media copy, you might be wondering which is the correct abbreviation, is it St. Paddy’s or St. Patty’s? “Patrick” is an anglicized version of the Irish name “Pádraig”, so use “St. Paddy’s” in your promotions and designs.
Luckily for everyone with an online clothing or accessories store, wearing green is a huge part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
This tradition stems from paying respect to the Emerald Isle itself, and myths that not wearing green on St. Paddy’s Day will get you pinched by a leprechaun. Well, the myth seems to have worked— the majority of US celebrators planned on wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day.
This tradition presents great opportunities for online clothing store owners, so how do you act on it?
Decorate your store and social media pages. If your brand image allows it, spruce up your online store with some visuals fit for Ireland and Irish iconography, or simply go green with a matching color-scheme.
And, most importantly, help those who are celebrating to create their festive outfits!
Which brings us to the next tip.
I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the so-bad-they’re-good designs that party-goers don on St. Paddy’s Day. As over-done as these designs are, they’re in high demand.
St. Patrick’s Day is a day of shenanigans and festivities, and funny shirts and slogans reign supreme at parades and parties. Often, the most outlandish statements or designs win the wearer that extra bit of cheer on the day.
Design some products adorned with St. Patrick’s Day puns and sayings like “Irish you were beer” or “Top o’ the morning.”
While some customers want to show off and have fun, what about people who will still wear green, but don’t necessarily attend parties? These folks may want to simply commemorate the occasion for their team, family, or significant other. In these cases, something a little more subtle may be in order.
Put a unique twist on St. Patrick’s Day clothing, or offer your customers the option to personalize their shirt so they can stand out in a sea of “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirts.
Once you’ve created your St. Patrick’s Day offer, it’s time to promote it.
It’s hard to track down the exact origin of the saying “Luck of the Irish.” Some link it to the California Gold Rush, where Irish miners seemed to strike gold more often than others.
Regardless, if you feel like running a promotion, there are two ways of doing this: either everyone’s a winner or the winner takes all.
If you want to leave winning to the luckiest of the bunch, you could opt for a simple Instagram giveaway. Paired with a well designed promotional material, a giveaway is a great way to show that you’re part of the fun.
If a giveaway isn’t to your taste and you want everyone to feel lucky, offer all your visitors a special discount code like “Lucky” or “Shamrock” with a St. Patrick’s themed promo on your homepage, like asos did.
You can go one step further and create a focused promo code offering a discount only for your green items or clothes. Encourage customers who already plan on wearing something green to go that extra bit further and make a purchase.
When you’re writing the copy for your promotion, it’s also a good occasion to get all of the Irish puns out of your system and adorn your promotions with your corniest jokes.
Silly jokes don’t go well with your brand image? Over the last few years, many apparel stores have run successful St. Patrick’s promotions without entering pun territory.
Roll out the green carpet to your email subscribers with a well designed, eye-catching email campaign.
Take for example this Urban Outfitters campaign that’s kept simple with a youthful promotion for their St. Patrick’s Day sale. Notice that they don’t even mention St. Patrick’s Day in the promotion, they just make use of its distinct iconography.
And an even more subtle approach—LOFT’s St. Patrick’s promo. Notice how they make the day their own, even claiming that this promo is “Our way of going green today”. Instead of going just green, they go Mint, an elegant alternative to the classic Kelly or Irish Green.
These tasteful acknowledgments of the occasion are the perfect way to avoid criticism of St. Patrick’s Day marketing, with some advocates claiming that the celebration often plays on stereotypes and misrepresents Irish culture.
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You don’t have to be Irish to have fun on St. Paddy’s Day. So take advantage of the opportunities this holiday offers to ecommerce businesses.
Go for a more sophisticated approach or get punny and mischievous—whichever is in line with your brand image. If you pull it off, there may be a pot of gold in it for you.
Ottis keeps on top of the latest trends in Tech, Psychology, and Entrepreneurship. If there's exciting new research in these fields, he's read it.
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