When Marketing to Women, Understand the Holiday is a Labor of Love
It was an easy question, but that’s what made it hard to answer.
“What are women thankful for?” the reporter asked me, “What are they thinking about this year?”
We live in tricky times, true, but at Thanksgiving, I think women are thankful for the things they’re thankful for every year, the same things men are thankful for: family, friends, health, jobs, and a long weekend to enjoy the people we haven’t spent enough time with recently.
But it’s not very satisfying to answer, “Well, you know – same old, same old. Women are thankful for the same things as usual, same as men.”
In search of an original insight, the question got me wondering whether there’s anything different about Thanksgiving for women compared to men. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized there is: Thanksgiving is doubly meaningful for women, because for us, it’s not just about the “Thanks” but also about the “Giving.”
At Thanksgiving, women call on themselves to give two of their most cherished – if often romanticized – labors of love: the warmth of good food, and the warm moments that memories are made of.
The holiday tradition is to come together with family and friends, the more, the merrier. It’s noisy. It can get complicated, and it’s a ton of work for the women of the tribe. Yet make no mistake – for the most part, we’re happy to do it, because that’s what makes it wonderful.
We feel it’s our job to make everything wonderful. It’s our gift that we know how to do that. And it’s our gift to our families and friends that we really, really care about doing it well.
Women are the family “memory keepers,“ a term I learned when I worked with Kodak. They meant that women are the family photo collectors, the archivists and documentarians who capture key family moments both momentous and mundane and preserve them for posterity. These moments are so important that people often say they’d run back into a burning house to rescue just two things: their pets and their photo albums.
But women see themselves as more than memory keepers – they want to be memory makers. They know that family bonds and the ties that bind lifelong friends together are created and strengthened by experiences; and that experiences are bound into the brain by deep emotion and the senses of smell, taste, touch, sight and sound.
Thanksgiving has all the elements of a potentially perfect, memorable occasion. It’s built on the ritual of a traditional holiday menu, and women work hard to give everyone an experience that’s savory, fragrant, warm, comfortable and happy.
At dinner-time, the table is piled high with comfort food, and it’s a point of pride to create the perfect holiday meal.
Mind you, that’s not easy to do. Every year I’m amazed anew at how hard it is to orchestrate a fairly simple menu – the same one each year, so I’ve had plenty of practice! – and deliver it to the table at that one exact instant when the turkey is carved yet still hot, the potatoes whipped and still fluffy, the rolls browned and not burnt, the stuffing steaming and not yet dried out. It takes days of coordination and preparation, hours of shopping and chopping, and a dawn-to-dinner timetable that moves a dozen dishes forward on parallel paths.
It’s not easy at all, but every year, millions of women give it their best because to women, the turkey dinner is more than just a meal. It’s literally a labor of love, a “work of heart” – a gift of warmth, good food, family and friendship.
We all give thanks. But in making Thanksgiving a day we all treasure, women give more. They give because they love the giving. They are thankful for the love in the room, and the noisy chaos, and even the mishaps that will make a funny story next year.
What are women thankful for? All the same things as men, and then some. Because for us, it’s not just about the “Thanks” but also about the “Giving.”