Every year on March 17th, hundreds of millions of people across the world, from the US to Japan, to Ireland itself, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is famously said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland and established Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. The religious holiday has evolved over the centuries, into a celebration of traditional Irish culture.
In the 21st century, for many Western countries; it’s become an occasion for some lighthearted fun that marks the beginning of Spring. It’s a day for Irish songs, drinks and laughs with friends (and strangers) in public parades, parties or at home, no matter your heritage.
What does that mean for ecommerce businesses?
With the right St. Patrick’s Day marketing campaign and a little luck, you too can tap into a huge $5.9 billion market. Research by Impact shows that 77% of millennials planned on celebrating last year, so we can expect 2019 to be yet another coast-to-coast party.
Most celebrations actually happen in the US, with 32.7 million U.S residents claiming Irish ancestry in a 2015 census. That’s around four times more than the actual population of Ireland. With St. Patrick’s Day events taking place in most cities across the Western World, we can expect similar hype in English speaking countries where Irish ancestry is widespread and treasured.
But how can you get in on the action?
Before we get into it: it’s important to remember that some St. Patrick’s Day marketing and products can be controversial. A word of caution that you probably don’t need: if your brand is serious about being serious in 2019, try not to play up to negative Irish stereotypes.
1. Get creative with social media
Nothing boosts brand awareness like people engaging with your brand. A good way to do 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 their followers to upload their most original picture or video of friends “cheersing” their Jameson. The winner took 3 friends to Dublin for St. Paddies.
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’re halfway there.
You don’t necessarily have to offer a trip to Dublin, one of your products will do just fine. Just remember, to motivate your followers to make the time and effort that user-generated content involves, the prize should be worth it, or the content should be easy and fun to create, like clinking glasses.
How about a “Best St. Patricks Day outfit” contest to get people sharing pictures with your hashtag? Ask your followers to share their best St. Paddy’s outfits to their Instagram story and tag your brand. The more engaging and fun, the better.
2. Focus on the trend of wearing green
Luckily for Jameson, drinks, friends, and laughs are a huge part of this celebration, and luckily for everyone with a clothing or accessories ecommerce store, so is wearing green.
Yep, St. Patrick’s Day spending isn’t just about the 13 million pints of Guinness consumed in the US alone. Green clothing can be seen everywhere on St. Patrick’s day.
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. Even if that leprechaun is actually your annoying friend. Well, the myth seems to have worked; 82% of Americans planned on wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day, 2017.
Data collected by the NRF shows us that an estimated 52% of American residents planned on going out to celebrate in 2018, but 82% planned on wearing green. That means that even those who stayed home on the 17th March still wanted to wear something green to commemorate the day.
But how to act on this trend?
Decorate your store and social media. If your brand image allows, spruce up your online store with some aesthetics fit for the Emerald Isle. Decorate your store and social media with Irish Iconography and content, or simply “go green”, changing color-schemes to match.
And, the obvious one; sell green clothes.
Which brings us to the next important tip:
3. Create some unique St. Patricks day designs or products.
I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the so-bad-they’re-good designs that most party-goers don on St. Paddy’s day. The thing is, as over-done as these designs are, they sell.
And they sell because they’re silly. But silly requires the right market—students; after all, the NRF found that 18-24 year-olds are most likely to celebrate.
So a special St. Patrick’s day design, or relevant product, plus a simple Facebook marketing strategy is a great idea for boosting your sales.
St. Patrick’s day isn’t typically the most laid back of celebrations, or the most subtle, so 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 sayings like “Kiss me I’m Irish” or “Top o’ the morning”. We designed clothing because, well… clothing is what we do.
Whilst some customers want to show off and have fun, what about that 30% of people who will still wear green, but don’t necessarily go out and celebrate? 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.
If you can, put a unique twist on St. Patrick’s day clothing, or even offer your customers the option to personalize their shirt so they can stand out in a sea of “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirts.
4. Make a lucky winner with a giveaway or promotional code
It’s hard to track down the exact origin of the “Luck of the Irish” saying. Some link it to the California Gold rush, where Irish miners seemed to strike gold more often than Americans.
Regardless, if you feel like running a promotion, there are two ways of doing this: where everyone’s a winner or the winner takes all.
Leaving the winner to the luckiest of the bunch, you could opt for a simple Instagram giveaway. A relevant giveaway and well designed promotional material is a great way to show that you’re part of the fun.
If your brand personality is more subtle and a giveaway isn’t to your taste, share the luck with all your customers. Just offer a discount code like “lucky”, or “Shamrock” with a simple St. Patrick’s themed promo on your homepage, like asos.
Why not focus your promotional code; give a discount for only 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 coming up with the copy for your promotion or giveaway, it’s also an acceptable occasion to get all of the Irish puns out of your system and adorn your promotions with your corniest; “Luck of the stylish” or “Perfect for a shamrockin’ night.”
5. Keep it classy with your email list
Speaking of subtle, try rolling out the green carpet to your email subscribers with a well designed, eye-catching email campaign. Over the last few years, many apparel stores have run a successful St. Patrick’s promotion without entering pun territory.
On last year’s St. Patrick’s Day, brands like Urban Outfitters kept it simple with a youthful promotion for their one-day sale. Notice that they don’t even mention St. Patrick’s Day in the promotion, they just make use of its distinct iconography.
Even more subtle—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”, a modern alternative to the classic “Kelly” or “Irish Green”.
These subtle acknowledgments of the occasion are the perfect way to avoid the classic criticism of St. Patrick’s Day marketing, with some advocates claiming that the celebration, especially in the US, now often plays on stereotypes and misrepresents Irish culture.
Ready to go make it happen?
Now, you have some ideas about which kind of St. Patrick’s Day marketing is right for your business. If you can have fun with it, do it. If you can be subtle with it, then do that. Somewhere in between? You get the picture.
Just remember that there’s a potential pot of gold in it for you if you pull it off.
Check out our holiday marketing calendar where you’ll find marketing tips for nearly every special occasion of the year.