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Few meals incite as much preparation and shopping as a Thanksgiving feast. Home cooks are turning to online sources to find recipes and cooking tips, and they start researching Thanksgiving meals as early as two months in advance to create the perfect spread. Brands that want a starring role in this year's holiday celebrations should be present online when and where consumers search for cooking inspiration.
During Thanksgiving week, recipe searches are twice as high as the average week. Most marketers focus campaigns on the weeks leading up to the holiday, but online searches for cooking-related content reach a peak on Thanksgiving Day. Brand marketers that want to surpass the competition should take advantage of this predictable traffic spike to influence consumers in the moment. After all, connected cooks love to have mobile devices on hand to look up their bookmarked recipes and tips while preparing holiday dishes.
In 2013, about 44 percent of Thanksgiving recipe searches happened on mobile devices, and this traffic increased by more than 20 percent the following year. So what type of recipes are most popular among connected cooks? People tend to stick to what they know when it comes to turkey, making them more likely to search for tasty side dishes and desserts. On an annual basis, dessert-related searches have increased three times faster than that of turkey recipes. However, searches about Thanksgiving leftovers are popular immediately after the holiday, and turkey plays a prominent role at this stage.
When planning online campaigns, brand marketers should produce cook-friendly videos and make sure all content is easily searchable. Because cooks are increasingly using mobile devices in a food-filled environment, they frequently perform simple voice searches for hands-free navigation. Millennial cooks especially prefer videos over written content, so they can see and hear instructions while busy in the kitchen. Subscriptions to online food channels have soared in recent years, making video-hosting sites or branded video portals the best places to engage with consumers on Thanksgiving.
With Thanksgiving being a time of family and tradition, marketers should aim to tie in brands with emotional and celebratory experiences. Although many cooks are looking for creative twists on classic side dishes, their Thanksgiving menus are heavily influenced by their families, childhoods and hometowns. Consider the example of spice brand McCormick, which successfully used a lookbook content series that provided compelling background material for each recipe with personal stories and memories.
Geographic location is another key factor, especially when it comes to food preparation. Classic roasting is the most popular turkey preparation method in the Northeast, while Southerners tend to pull out the deep fryer. Smoking is common in Midwest states, and brining is gaining ground in the Northwest. Brands that take note of these regional variations have the best chance of creating content that feels personal and relevant to home cooks.
For successful Thanksgiving promotions, smart brands should reflect upon the type of foods consumers are most likely to prepare and interesting ways they can incorporate new ingredients and flavors, such as seasoning blends and brines. Also, think beyond food prep, and produce content relating to other aspects of the meal, such as elegant plating and the best cooking techniques.
Marketers should plan content for every stage of the search cycle, making sure to ramp up advertising on Thanksgiving Day when more cooks are connected online and fewer competitors are active. Before planning your Thanksgiving campaigns, contact the LA Times for tips on reaching consumers through digital and print strategies.