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The Egg Nog Chronicles: Turning Holiday Rituals into Marketing Opportunities


By Emily Valentine (@ebvalentine)


Image courtesy: Cooking Channel

Tradition is one ingredient that makes the holidays special. Many people take comfort in the widely adopted rituals established by retailers (shopping on Black Friday), athletic associations (watching bowl games) or religious groups (keeping advent calendars, baking yule logs or exchanging Hanukah gifts), and others find joy in creating their own traditions, like @ProfSpiker and his Turkey Olympics or the Johnson Family and their extreme Christmas cards.

This persistence and evolution of holiday customs creates endless opportunities for marketers – whether that means hitching on to existing traditions (see the Oreo Santa ads from the 80s), creating new ones (like Starbucks’ holiday lattes), or seeding consumers with ideas that inspire them to discover their own (like Pinterest’s 30 Days of Pinspiration).

One of my favorite holiday traditions relates to booze (of course), and I think it’s one with untapped marketing potential.

Ever since I can remember, some faction of my family has gathered between Thanksgiving and Christmas to mix up a mean batch of egg nog. I’m not talking about the type you buy at the store and add your own liquor to … I’m talking about the kind you labor over for hours, and attend to with the determined delicacy a new mother might apply to baking her child’s first birthday cake.

I am so fond of this tradition that last year I decided to spread it. My husband and I made egg nog together (a first!) and had a grand time turning a mass of eggs, milk and booze into gifts for those at the top of our list. As we set to work, I found that three decades of the family ritual had committed some key tenets of nogging to muscle memory:

Make sure no shard of shell or speck of yellow gets into the bowl of egg whites … Don’t pour the rum in so quickly that it scrambles the yolks … Gently fold – don’t chop – the fluffy whites into the mixand once all that precious nog has been cozied into clean glass jars, whatever you do, do NOT shake themagitate the nog and you run the risk of incurring froth damage before the tasty toddy has reached its peak.

Image courtesy: wikihow

For anyone who enjoys cooking (or mixing cocktails), a process requiring such precision can’t help but be rewarding. And, for me, making the egg nog is just the first step in enjoying it. Subsequent waves of pleasure come in sharing it – with old friends who look forward to it every year and new friends who’ve never tasted the real stuff before – and in savoring it. (I like to make mine last by sipping just a small glass on those rare relaxing nights in during the holiday rush.)

Now, I’m obviously biased, but I’m nonetheless surprised at how little attention marketers seem to have paid to the opportunities inherent in this bizarrely gratifying custom. I’ve found there to be a great deal of consumer confusion as to what egg nog really is, where it originated and how it’s made. Many people have negative perceptions about the store-bought variety, but have never tried the home-made version and show minimal interest in making it themselves.

And while there are certainly several brands pushing egg nog at retail this time of year, I’ve yet to see any applying really effective “pull” strategies to grow consumer demand. The way I see it, the door is open for rum, bourbon and brandy marketers to stir their holiday sales by building awareness and influencing attitudes around this magical mixture.

And, since there’s nothing like a potent glass of egg nog to get the creative juices flowing, I invite all you marketers to jump start your planning with a glass of my favorite blend. Enjoy!

My favorite egg nog (Recipe courtesy of my great uncle, Henry Holland)

2 dozen large eggs

1 lb confectioners sugar

1 quart rich cream

2 quarts cognac

½ pint dark Jamaican rum

Separate egg yolks and whites into two large bowls. Beat whites until they form stiff peaks. Set aside.

Beat sugar into yolks thoroughly. Pour cognac in very slowly, stirring constantly. Add rum the same way. Add cream and gently fold in the egg whites, stirring until they blend with the sugar substance.

Pour nog into jars (or your container of choice) and keep refrigerated. Serve cold with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Yield: 20 cups

NOTE: Separation of alcohol and foam is normal. When it happens, gently stir or turn the jar until substances re-blend. Do not shake!

About Emily Valentine:

Emily is fascinated by every aspect of food: How it’s grown, how it’s prepared and how it impacts our perceptions and behaviors. Described by her colleagues as a voracious learner and energetic worker, she thrives on helping companies achieve their purpose through strategic communications and creative executions. Emily’s home base is in Washington, DC, where you’ll find her running, writing, biking, planning her next trip and shopping at Whole Foods whenever she has the chance.

One Comment on “The Egg Nog Chronicles: Turning Holiday Rituals into Marketing Opportunities

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