If retailers want a happy holiday, then they should say Merry Christmas. Many retailers earn 50% of their annual revenues and profits in November and December. For them to hide from Christmas is like a flag maker suppressing patriotism. It doesn't make sense.
And just who are PC retailers trying to please with this strategy? Though four percent of Americans don't celebrate Christmas, even they aren't put off by those who do. Consider the following quote from an atheist I know.
I 100% agree with your faith-based marketing concept--most retailers should try to appeal to the widest audience possible. By alienating that audience by saying something generic and vague like "happy holidays," they risk turning off more people than they would turn on with the phrase. Christmas is a federal holiday celebrating the life of a man (Jesus Christ), similar to MLK Jr. Day (as Bill O'Reilly likes to say). No one can deny the cultural significance that Christ has had, regardless of religious affiliation.
77% of the population is Christian, and 96% celebrate Christmas...so there can't be many people who would be offended by the word "Christmas," including most atheists, agnostics, or otherwise non-religious Americans, if a lot of them observe Christmas. Maybe I'll start an "atheists against 'happy holidays'" movement to put an end to "happy holidays".
Yesterday I appeared on Fox and Friends to make the case that retailers should acknowledge Christmas rather than hiding behind a generic "holiday" greeting. It's just good business. And that's a point my co-author Bob Hutchins and I make in our new book Faith-Based Marketing.
Because Fox is fair and balanced they included a fellow who owns a company that manufactures atheist holiday cards. Since the word holiday derives from the words "holy day" the whole concept of atheistic holiday cards seems more than a little ironic. If there is no God, then how can any day be holy?
Nevertheless, here's the clip of our segment. Thanks to everyone that helped me prepare by answering the questions on my blog. Thanks especially to Cole Pinner who rallied members of his Facebook group We Will Say Merry Christmas and Keep Christ in CHRISTmas to answer my blog questions. Consider joining. I did.
Finally, thanks to friends and family who provided prayers and encouragement before, during, and after.
Enjoy the clip. Is it good or bad that an atheist "basically agreed with everything I said?" Spread the fire. GS
I need my Christian readers to answer a question. When a retailer calls December 25th Christmas, rather than generically referring to it as a "holiday" are you more likely to give them your business?
I am scheduled to appear on MSNBC on Tuesday to discuss this topic and I want to know your opinion. Who knows, I may quote you on the program.
Please take a moment to consider the following questions and leave your answer as a comment to this blog post. Number your answers to correspond to the numbered questions.
As a believer, do you feel better about retailers that use the term Christmas on their website, in their advertising and in their store signage than you do about those retailers that avoid the term?
Are you more likely to patronize businesses that recognize Christmas than those who use the generic term "holidays?"
How would you feel if a company bought the phrase "Christmas present" as a Google paid search term, but never used the word Christmas anywhere in their store, advertising, or website? In other words, they knew that you might search the term Christmas present and wanted to capture your business, but refused to acknowledge Christmas themselves.
Please leave any other thoughts or comments you think appropriate to this discussion.
Thanks for your help. I'll provide more details on the program as I get them myself.
The American Family Association reported today that Costco Stores won't acknowledge Christmas. When asked whether Costco used the word Christmas in its advertising, on its signs, or anywhere in its stores during the Christmas season a Costco representative replied, "I guess the answer would be no."
Forget the myriad other arguments, now that America is officially in a recession, ignoring Christmas is just a plain stupid business decision. By acknowledging the reason for the season smart businesses can attract America's 140 million church-goers and their Christmas spending. Ignore Christmas--one of the two defining holidays of the Christian faith--or try to present "holidays" as an acceptable alternative, and you insult the people who hold that faith dear. Need an example? Check out the comments following the story at the free republic website.
To put this in perspective, imagine the outrage if Costco refused to acknowledge that Martin Luther King Day had anything to do with a black man who fought for civil rights while simultaneously asking African Americans to commemorate the "holiday" by purchasing gifts for each other. Ouch!
In an attempt to be "inclusive" many well-intentioned businesses wind up excluding Christians by removing references to their sacred holiday altogether. True inclusiveness means keeping Christ in Christmas even as you acknowledge other people groups whose holidays fall around the same time.
Political correctness is out. Economic correctness is in. If businesses will recognize Christmas for what it really is--Jesus' birthday--then believers (2.1 billion of them world-wide) will reward them with their patronage. It can be a powerful competitive advantage at a time when businesses desperately need one.
Spread the fire and Merry Christmas. GS
Note: My next book, co-written with Bob Hutchins, is called Faith-Based Marketing. Wiley and Sons will publish it in April 2009.