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Macy’s bets on holiday-themed apps to fuel seasonal shopper connections

Macy’s is unlocking several seasonal mobile applications to connect with holiday shoppers of all ages, enabling them to interact with content during its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and write wish list letters to Santa.

Macy’s is enabling consumers to download the complimentary 89th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade app to enjoy an additive, second-screen experience and further engage with the holiday tradition. Additionally, users can purchase the Macy’s Wish Writer interactive stylus and app to provide their children with fun games, as well as the ability to write letters to Santa and simultaneously generate donations to the Make-A-Wish organization.

“Macy’s is wise to take such a venerable event and make it even a better consumer experience through mobile,” said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize and author of The Art of Mobile Persuasion. “The parade is large enough and has opportunities such as behind-the-scenes interviews and footage and exclusive access to other content that makes the app appealing to many.”

Subtly driving sales
Macy’s strategy of connecting with consumers ahead of the holiday shopping frenzy will lend itself well to fueling future sales. Those who interact with the retailer by watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on mobile or sharing exclusive content on social media may have Macy’s at the forefront of their minds when they set out to conquer Black Friday shopping the next day.

The marketer has previously rolled out incarnations of this particular app before, consequently ramping up viewership of the annual event that acts as unofficial kick-off for the holiday season.

Fans will be soon be able to download the official app for their Android or iOS devices to interact with the parade, learn more about the floats and performers and disseminate content among friends and family. Macy’s also has a dedicated social microsite with pertinent parade information for those gearing up to watch, located at

The Thanksgiving Day event will be taking place on November 26 at 9 a.m.

Macy’s has previously implemented seasonal content into its Thanksgiving Day Parade app to make the viewing experience even more fun.

Last November, the app provided fans with an interactive experience via the augmented reality Elf-O-Matic that allowed users to create their own parade float using a photo of themselves (see story).

A mobile-savvy Santa
Macy’s is also expanding this year’s Believe holiday marketing campaign with a heavy mobile focus. In addition to a new short film that features a modern take on the “Believe” story, the retailer is also prompting fans to turn to mobile to communicate their wish lists to Santa.

The brand is promoting its Wish Writer interactive stylus, which comes with a free complementary app. The Wish Writer provides a plethora of fun games designed for teaching children about virtues such as generosity and kindness, as well as encouraging exploration and adventure.

Consumers will be able to use the stylus to play games on their mobile devices and earn rewards for any good deeds accomplished. Furthermore, children may write letters to Santa through the app, showcasing how digitized wish lists have become in recent years.

For each letter sent to Santa through the app, in-store or via, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish charity, up to a total of one million dollars. The organization’s focus on granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses makes it the ideal partner to team up with for this holiday donation.

The brand has been ramping up for a strong year in mobile, and appears to be finishing on a high note, with a slew of commerce-related functions recently offered to customers.

This past summer, Macy’s introduced a complimentary personal shopping service that enables consumers to book an appointment with a stylist via a mobile-optimized site, highlighting smartphones’ journey into becoming must-have shopping companions (see story).

“Macy’s is five years into this app effort, and given the staying power of the parade and wireless interest, there’s no way that we’re going back in time,” Mr. Hasen said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York