How to make special days your new secret marketing weapon!


How to make special days
your new secret marketing weapon

Promotions on unusual ‘Special Days’ (e.g. World Tourism Day, anniversary of first purchase) are more effective at increasing sales. In one experiment, people were 25% more likely to buy.

You can create three types of special day promotions:

  • Existing special days (e.g. World Water Day)
  • Your company’s own day (e.g. Amazon Prime Day)
  • Personalised special offer days (e.g. anniversary of the first time a customer bought from you)

Special days must be creative and original while fitting to your brand and product. They won’t work if many competitors use them too (e.g. Father’s Day).


 The following summarises conclusions from research *

  • People are more likely to buy from promotions that celebrate an uncommon special day (e.g. 30% off for Star Wars day), compared to the same discount not linked to a special day (e.g. 30% off today only). For example, in experiments:

  • People were almost 2x more likely to click promotion links in an email (10% vs 19.3%) of a small business selling dog gear (e.g. collars) when the promotion day was a special day:
  • Special day subject line: “Save 25% Today As We Celebrate the Anniversary of Cooper’s Rescue” (Cooper being the company’s mascot dog, rescued by the founder)
  • Control condition subject line: “Save 25% Today at [Company name]”
  • Study participants reported they were 25.1% more likely to buy from a picnic-related retailer when the one-day 30% discount was framed as a “National Picnic Day Sale” day rather an “Annual One Day Sale”

    For the effect to work, the special day needs to be:
  • Original: a holiday or event that’s not commonly used for promotions (e.g. World Postal Day, 9th October) or is unique to the company (e.g. an anniversary, preferably accompanied by a story)
  • Appropriate: a good fit between the special day and the company’s brand and products (e.g. ​​International Firefighter’s Day, 4th May, wouldn’t typically be relevant for a food retailer)
  • Special day-themed promotions don’t give negative signals (e.g. low quality), unlike what often happens when discounting products. Instead, people see the promotions as the result of marketing creativity. 

🧠 Why it works

  • We notice the creativity of special day promotions that are original and appropriate.
  • This unexpected unique creativity makes us feel better towards the brand and increases our enjoyment of the offers, which makes us more likely to buy.


  • This study only looked at special day promotions that had a discount attached to them (e.g. 20% off on selected products). We don’t know whether just celebrating a special day in itself, without further incentives, would have a positive effect.
  • It’s unclear how much originality special days need to have before they start to have an effect. Is a birthday offer original enough?
  • We don’t know whether the frequent use of various special day promotions could have a long-term positive (e.g. very creative brand) or negative (e.g. using every possible excuse for promotions) effect on a brand.
  • The research didn’t analyse the effect of multiple day offers, such as special weeks (e.g. World Space Week). However, the effects are likely to be similar.

🏢 Companies using this

  • Some holidays have already been transformed into promotional days that are now commonplace and unoriginal (e.g. Mother’s Day).
  • Apparel retailer Land’s End uses International Swimsuit Day July 5th) to promote its swimwear line.
  • Betabrand, a fashion retailer, sends personalised special discounts to their customers on the anniversary of the day they made their first purchase.

Steps to implement

  • Instead of launching discounts and promotions without a meaning, look for reasons to create a special day offer.
  • You can choose from existing special days (relevant to the local market you’re targeting), create your own company day, or use a personalised day based on an interaction you had with a customer.
  • The more creative you can make it the better, but make sure you keep it appropriate to your brand and products.

Why not contact web-aviso to discuss our solutions for your business and help you get a creative edge above your competitors 



* Research

Study type

Lab and online experiments, and a field experiment (on the email list of a small business selling dog gear). United States


Zane, D. M., Reczek, R. W., & Haws, K. L. (September 2021). Promoting Pi Day: Consumer Response to Special Day‐Themed Sales Promotions. Journal of Consumer Psychology.

[Link to paper]

Remember: Because of the groundbreaking nature of this paper, it could be proven wrong in the future (although this is rare). It also may not be generalisable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.



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