At sundown tonight, Pesach, known in English as Passover, will begin. According to Judaism 101, Passover “is one of the most commonly observed Jewish holidays, even by otherwise non-observant Jews” with 67% of Jews routinely attending a Passover seder, while only 46% belong to a synagogue.
Easter is more than a week away (celebrated April 20th this year) and you have most likely noticed Easter advertisements everywhere.
Looking at the numbers
In San Diego County, there are around 3 million people, with a Jewish population of about 89,000 (2005 numbers). So really that’s just a little less than 3 percent of the county’s population, so maybe it is not worth targeting this group.
Hmm, let’s think about this a little more.
3 percent seems low, but that’s 89,000 people. If you’re a local business, do you want to ignore 89,000?
Think about it, if every business but yours ignored those 89,000 people, you would have found a goldmine of customers. You could build loyalty and increase your customer base.
Let’s talk about food
Yes, there is a secular, and very commercial, component of Easter that Passover does not have, but both holidays share a common bond: sharing of a meal.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, a shared seder meal is a large component of the celebration of Passover.
Many families have a special Easter dinner.
So who are the grocery stores marketing to?
I live in San Diego, and there are several grocery store chains. I decided to take a look at the ways the stores are marketing both Passover and Easter. I am writing this blog the week before Passover, so there is still a weekend to shop before Passover … and more than a week and another wave of advertising until Easter.
For most of the grocery stores, their websites either didn’t mention anything about either holiday or only mentioned Easter, so I am going to focus mainly on the flyers/circulars that are mailed and posted online.
There were two stores that completely ignored Passover in their flyers.
The first was a major chain in the area: Vons.
As you can see, Vons only focuses on Easter … and oddly ignores the components of the meal part of the holiday. Instead, the focus is solely on the commercialization of the holiday (and The Hobbit for some reason).
The other offender is technically not a grocery store, but is a place where more people are getting their groceries: Walmart.
Yes, it makes sense for Walmart to focus on the toys, candy and even kids’ Easter outfits, which they do.
However, Walmart also touts its offerings for your Easter dinner – on not one page, but two.
But there isn’t one mention of Passover in the flyer.
Will these stores close down by ignoring Passover? No. However, they aren’t accumulating any brownie points or building loyalty with the Jewish community.
We love selling Easter … and we respect Passover
Ralphs, another grocery chain in Southern California, dedicates three pages to Easter.
But, they only have about a third of a page dedicated to Passover. (I almost missed it the first time I looked through the flyer.)
They are focusing more on the majority (as noted above), but they still make sure to include Passover. And, although it is smaller, they seem more sincere (if that’s possible in advertising) in their Passover ads.
Look a bit closer. The Easter promos are just selling. I may have missed it, but I didn’t even see a “Happy Easter.” However, the Passover section – even though it’s small – states,
“Ralphs wishes you a Passover full of happiness, peace and prosperity!”
Ralphs is not only marketing to the 3 percent, it is showing respect for the celebration.
There’s no top billing here
Two of the local supermarket chains decided to give Passover equal billing with Easter – at least until after Passover (which makes sense).
Albertsons did not dedicate a lot of space in its flyer to the holidays, but it gave both holidays equal space. The chain gets extra points for listing Passover first, including Hebrew, and wishing patrons to “Have a joyous Passover.”
Whole Foods is too good for a flyer – at least not one I could find. :-) However, the upscale grocer has an active blog on its website. On April 10th, there was a post about creating lovable Easter baskets.
However, two days earlier, the chain posted about kosher Passover selections at the store. The post even entices the reader with a minor “What’s in it for me?” moment. The first line of the blog reads, “Looking to add a little variety to your Passover meals this year?” The blog also lets readers know in the post title that foods that will be discussed are kosher.
These two stores recognize the importance of not overshadowing Passover with Easter promotions. A smart move, since they will still have another week of advertising before Easter.
Keep this in mind before winter sets in
Most of the country is still waiting to see signs of spring, but this marketing lesson will apply to your winter holiday marketing.
Don’t put all of your focus on Christmas this December. Just because you are looking at a smaller population, you should still include some marketing and acknowledgement of the other winter holidays, including Hanukkah?, Kwanzaa?, New Year’s Eve (and Day), and Winter Solstice. If you are feeling even more ambitious, there are many more holidays to acknowledge throughout the year.
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