Labor Day is just around the corner. If you’re thinking about tying a campaign to the long weekend that heralds the end of summer and back-to-school / back-to-the-office, now is the time to nail down your plan.
Labor Day: The Flip Side to Memorial Day
In the typical U.S. marketing calendar, summer is bracketed by two national holidays: Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September.
The two holidays have something in common besides giving workers a three-day weekend: each was created to honor a segment of the U.S. population, but the meaning for each one has morphed beyond the original intent.
Memorial Day signals the start of the summer season—end of school, start of vacation, workaday cares tossed to the four winds. At the other end of the spectrum, Labor Day marks the last long weekend before school and work schedules kick in again.
Unlike Memorial Day, Labor Day doesn’t have an organized set of rituals, like parades or ceremonies. Individual communities or labor unions might organize events, but they don’t tap into the national zeitgeist like Memorial Day, which honors the fallen in war.
So, Labor Day marketing relies more on appealing to individual activities and emotions—picnics, vacations at the cottage or shore, getting ready for class, one last long weekend of relaxation before resuming the regular routines of school, work and home.
Background, Numbers and Marketing Challenges for Labor Day
In the United States and Canada, Labor Day is a government-ordained holiday, falling every year on the first Monday in September.
The backgrounds are similar—both holidays were designated to recognize achievements of the labor movement and workers in general. Other countries celebrate Labor Day on May 1, International Workers Day, or at other times of the year.
Labor Day by the Numbers
Like Memorial Day, Labor Day doesn’t rank as one of the top retail spending holidays as charted by the National Retail Federation. Some of the spending that happens on the four-day weekend (Friday-Monday) is attributed to back-to-school / back-to-college spending.
A 2017 study by WalletHub uncovered these intentions among American consumers:
- 57% said they planned to make Labor Day-related purchases.
- $58 was the average amount per person consumers said they planned to spend.
- The top three planned purchases were clothing (43%), school supplies (22%) and electronics (12%).
Another 2017 study, this time by Offers.com, quizzed U.S. consumers on their Labor Day plans and came up with these results (respondents could pick more than one answer):
- 44% planned to spend the holiday with family.
- 27% would spend time outside.
- 22% expected to be running a barbecue grill over the weekend.
- 10% planned to party the weekend away.
Labor Day Challenges
Labor Day doesn’t have the emotional pull as Memorial Day or other summer holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day). Here are some of the challenges to consider when planning your campaign:
- Shopping isn’t the main focus: The Offers.com study data shows that Labor Day, like Memorial Day, is one people plan to spend with other, whether with family or friends, at parties. Although the ubiquity of smartphones means the inbox will be as close as a pocket or handbag, your customers likely will be thinking about other things on the weekend.
- No obvious product tie-ins: Unlike Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s / Father’s Day, Labor Day isn’t associated with a universal set of gift ideas or purchase ideas.
- Need to segment or suppress non-U.S. / Canada audiences: Labor Day promotions probably will fall flat with your international customers. You could suppress these customers or send an alternate message that doesn’t focus on Labor Day.
Should You Still Plan a Labor Day Campaign? Yes!
It looks as if we just gave you a bunch of reasons not to do a Labor Day campaign. Now, let’s look at three reasons why you should focus a campaign on this holiday:
1. People are shopping!
Back to school / back to college is still in full swing. The NRF’s annual survey found 5% of school-shopping families wait until the last minute to shop for clothing, supplies, electronics and related goodies.
College-bound shoppers are even bigger procrastinators, with 11% waiting until just before or just after heading to campus to start or finish working on their lists.
With combined school and college shopping estimated to hit $82.8 billion in the United States this year, there’s still plenty to go around.
The NRF estimates college-bound shoppers will spend an average $969.88 per household, while K-12 families will shell out an average $687.82 per household.
What’s more, other shoppers will be out bargain-hunting in full force, looking for deals on indoor and outdoor furniture, summer clothing and accessories, mattresses and bedding and other major purchases.
Shoppers might be relaxing on Labor Day itself but when they aren’t flipping burgers on the grill or watching baseball on TV, they’re probably going to be scrolling through their inboxes. Plus the three-day weekend gives them more time to shop online or in stores.
2. Everybody else is doing it
That excuse might not have worked back when you were 10 years old, but today’s inboxes make that argument more compelling.
The chart below shows when and how other email marketers are sending email ahead of and on Labor Day. Notice the spike the Thursday prior.
Discover more trends, including what kinds of promotions marketers used and what discounts they offered on MailCharts’ Labor Day holiday page.
3. Exercise your creative muscle
Because there’s no playbook to follow for Labor Day emails, you can let your creative team unleash their imaginations and look for fresh new ways to attract attention in your customers’ overcrowded inboxes.
Everything from the subject line to the preheader, images to message copy and even promotion ideas can be a testing ground for major campaigns the rest of the year.
If you’ve always wanted to try something creative and new, Labor Day could provide a good testing ground.
3 Labor Day campaigns to copy
We scoured the MailCharts database for examples of email campaigns that would inspire you either to try a Labor Day campaign or take your creative content up a notch or two. Click each image to view it full size.
We’d love to hear what you think of them! Leave a comment at the end of this post about your plans or questions about Labor Day planning.
1. Celebrate the end of summer.
The WalletHub survey found that 43% of its respondents don’t look forward to Labor Day. Maybe it’s the end of summer, the return to routine, or the onset of fall and winter that gets people down. So, turn it into an occasion to celebrate.
Subject line: A little Labor Day gift…
Preheader: Get free shipping on all orders this Labor Day using this code—but hurry!
Lots to love in this simple Labor Day email:
- This brand turns Labor Day into something to anticipate with the subject line that offers something special.
- The preheader uses urgency to prompt customers to act.
- The message content frames Labor Day as “One Last Summer Fling.”
- Finally, the easy-to-remember discount code “LABORFUN” underscores the positive and lighthearted approach the campaign takes.
2. Tie in a back-to-school theme
As we noted above, there’s still plenty of action left in back-to-class spending. You might not think of your brand as a natural for younger kids going back to class, but you might have goods to attract college students looking for dorm gear, clothing, electronics or athletic gear.
However, if your brand is clearly in the consideration set for school-shopping parents, Labor Day and back-to-school are a natural fit.
Subject line: Skip the Mall, We’ve Got It All
Here’s an email that’s a labor-saving device all by itself. It shows you how to cross-pollinate Labor Day with back-to-school into your content without creating a specific Labor Day email.
Plus, it appeals to parents who want to skip the whole mall / discount-store crush but still outfit their kids with style.
We love the headline “We do the labor for you!” because it’s a sly reference to Labor Day as well as a clear statement of the brand’s value proposition.
The images show customers exactly what to expect in the stylist box, and the copy is consistently clever throughout.
3. Send a Labor Day status update
Labor Day is all about out-of-office, but not everyone gets the day off. Let customers or users know what to expect.
Your email could let customers know your offices are closed but your customer-support lines are open. Or, if you’re staying open, post your hours and include a link to your “find a store” function to help out-of-towners find your nearest outlet.
Subject line: Illustria wishes you a Happy Labor Day!
Preheader: Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
Trust us—you must click on this email to see the clever animation it sent at quittin’ time on the Friday before Labor Day to let customers know its offices will be closed on the holiday Monday.
But, even the still image you see here would be enough to alert customers to its change in service hours.
Yes, a simple short note would have gotten the message across, but the added creativity helps promote the services this D.C.-based digital creative agency provides.
Need More Labor Day Inspiration?
Have a wonderful (and, hopefully, a labor-free) Labor Day!