When it comes to global marketing, the holiday season never ends. The key to crafting an effective international holiday marketing calendar is understanding your consumers and targeting what truly matters to them. Holidays are deeply personal and can bring feelings of nostalgia and warmth. However, as marketers, we must remain mindful when sharing content about topics as personal as holidays.

So, what are the best practices for navigating global holiday marketing plans? What holidays are the most important for international marketing? And how can culture, language, season and tradition affect holiday marketing? Read on to find out how to navigate global holiday marketing.

Why international holiday marketing needs careful planning

Holidays have the power to tap into the best of times, but they can also spark debate about what’s appropriate in the global market.

Building a global strategy means considering the target audience. When doing so, there are areas of sensitivity. You need to be able to create content that resonates but remains as neutral as possible. Some sensitivities go beyond culture and language and can be reminders of hard moments.

However, opt-out emails are not always possible in global marketing strategies. There are other ways to remain mindful when planning a holiday marketing campaign.

Here are some tips:

  1. Do your research and plan ahead. Planning global holiday marketing campaigns well in advance is crucial. It’s important to explore and understand the traditions of different cultures. Early research ensures your messages and visuals resonate locally. We previously talked about the Japanese Christmas Eve tradition of ordering Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is unique to their culture. It’s also key to point out that it’s considered the most romantic day of the year, which could change a Santa Claus post to one with fried chicken, hearts and love. 
  1. Keep seasons in mind. Seasons vary globally and significantly influence consumer behavior. At VeraContent, we’ve helped a client launch a holiday campaign on summer book recommendations across the UK, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. Due to the global market, we have to split our campaign across good reads for good weather in the UK and Germany and cozy reads for the cold days in Australia and New Zealand. 
  1. Remain authentic. When you’re designing global marketing campaigns, stay true to your brand. It’s far better to create content that comes from a genuine place than trying to force a connection with your audience. Be intentional, be consistent. 

“We always advise you to market consistently. If your brand promotes pride throughout the year, then absolutely add a flag during Pride Month. If your brand never speaks on feminism, we recommend not posting about International Women’s Day because it won’t feel authentic. Stay consistent with your brand and its values.”

Joana Aina Sánchez, Head of Project Management at VeraContent
  1. Use intentional language. When addressing a global audience, it’s crucial to recognize the diversity in cultures, beliefs and traditions. As a global marketer, choosing which holidays to highlight requires careful consideration to ensure inclusivity. If you’re making a “Merry Christmas” post, consider also creating posts for “Happy Hanukkah” and “Joyous Kwanzaa” to celebrate all relevant holidays. Alternatively, using “Happy Holidays” can encompass various celebrations in one inclusive message. Whatever the approach, it’s essential to maintain a culturally aware strategy tailored to your brand.

See below two examples of holiday-themed posts that our team created for St. Dalfour. For the Middle East, our Dubai-based CM created content celebrating UAE’s national day (left). For Australia, our team created content for the Melbourne Cup to stay up to date with the events taking place in the country (right).

Check out our work sample.

See also: How to design a global social media strategy that gets results 

Key global holiday marketing dates

In December 1997, Starbucks designer Sandy Nelson launched her first set of seasonal cups. At the time, Starbucks had no idea they were building a legacy. Countdown clocks and late-night shows swarmed the internet with predictions on when the cups would change to the holiday version. 

What’s happened now in popular culture is that the appearance of the red cup signals to people that it’s time to celebrate the holidays,” explains Sandy. With over 38,000 Starbucks locations across 86 countries, this global marketing strategy, which started as one single design, has become the mark of a season worldwide. 

Starbucks Christmas cups

There are more holidays to create campaigns around, especially globally. Here are a few we think you could add to your content calendar:

January

  • New Year’s Day is a great way to kick off your global holiday marketing strategy. Sending your consumers a best wishes message can set the tone for the year ahead. 
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day is recognized in the US on the third Monday of this month. 
  • Celebrate your clients down under on January 26 with Australia Day
  • Chinese New Year celebrations start around January 21 and roll into mid-February.
@riamoneytransfer

Happy Chinese New Year! Embrace the year of the Wood Dragon, which is said to bring evolution, improvement, and abundance. It’ the perfect time for a fresh start and building a foundation for long-term success.”#chinesenewyear #newyear #hellonewyear #cny #imlek #lunarnewyear #yearofthedragon #red #chineseculture

♬ original sound – Ria Money Transfer

February 

  • Super Bowl Sunday, the first Sunday of this month, is a holiday marketing strategy that has proven to reach audiences in various regions. 
  • Couples everywhere will celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14, and you could also use this opportunity to shout out Galentines. 
  • Once every four years, your team can bring light to Leap Day!

March

  • International Women’s Day is celebrated on the eighth. And the entire month is Women’s History Month. 
  • St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17 and could serve as a fun campaign for global markets.
  • Depending on the year, the Spring Equinox is celebrated as early as March 19 or as late as March 21.
  • Passover and Easter are celebrated this month.
  • Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19 across Europe, but later in the calendar in other global markets.

April

  • World Autism Awareness Day is recognized on April 2. 
  • We celebrate Mother Earth on April 22 with Earth Day.
  • Recommend a good book on April 23 for World Book Day.

May

  • 5 de mayo is an opportunity to wish your global consumers a happy day of celebrations. 
  • Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May around the globe.

June

  • Father’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in June in the US and other global markets.
  • Summer solstice kicks off vacation season, varying from June 20-22.
  • Every four years, your team can launch a campaign for the World Cup. The next one will take place in 2026, giving your team a lot of time to plan.
  • Pride Month is celebrated across the globe in June.

July

  • Celebrate Canada Day with your global consumers on July 1.
  • Celebrate Independence Day on July 4 with your American market.
  • Celebrate Bastille Day with your French consumers on July 14.
  • Continue World Cup coverage throughout this month.

August

  • This month is an excellent time to kick off back-to-school global holiday marketing campaigns. Parents and students alike will be buzzing with excitement.

September

  • You can use September as a time to tap into more niche holidays, like Ginger Cat Appreciation Day on September 1, Read a Book Day on September 6, International Day of Peace on September 21 or International Translation Day on September 30. 

October

  • Dive into spooky puns and scare tactics with Halloween on October 31. 

Fun fact: In 2013, Tide used this holiday as a way to market-test Vine videos. Their campaign warned stains to be scared by using classic Halloween thrillers. 

November

  • Celebrate five days of Diwali with your consumers in India. 
  • Singles Day falls on November 11, which also happens to be one of the world’s biggest shopping days. This is a chance to tap into a new market. November 11 is also Remembrance Day across Commonwealth countries.
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the US. 
  • Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, which were once associated with Thanksgiving weekend, are now global holidays. 

“Black Friday is something all brands should consider. It can be a huge sales opportunity for larger markets or a way to mark your brand as a smaller business that cannot have big sales days. One way or another, it should never be ignored as a global holiday marketing opportunity.”

Joana Aina Sánchez, Head of Project Management at VeraContent

December 

  • December is a big month for global holiday marketing. The season as a whole kicks off in this month and includes Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve. 

VeraContent client example: 12 Days of Deals with PopSockets

The “12 Days of Deals!” promotion for PopSockets
The “12 Days of Deals!” promotion for PopSockets

As the month of December is a holiday season in and of itself, many brands take the idea of “12 Days of Christmas” and adapt it to something like the “12 Days of Giveaways.” 

Our team at VeraContent worked alongside PopSockets to build a “12 Days of Deals!” international holiday marketing campaign across the UK, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. We were able to localize the content and reach consumers by making genuine, authentic connections to their respective cultures. 

This type of localization and connection is not restricted to the holidays that fall in December. Our team has used other national and international days to create promotions for our client St. Dalfour, finding ways to tap into the specific traditions around the celebrations. 

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Ready to navigate global holiday marketing with ease?

You don’t have to take your holiday marketing campaigns globally alone. Get help from experts prepared to research, analyze data, develop a plan and craft a localized, personalized strategy to effectively engage international markets.

At VeraContent, we specialize in helping brands create marketing strategies from the bottom up, allowing your team to focus on other areas. Working with local experts who understand the global market and who you trust to build creative, authentic content could be your next step to an international holiday marketing campaign that reaches the right audience at the right time.

Reach out today to see if your team qualifies for a Free Content Consultation!