While many holiday campaigns rely on bad turkey or Santa puns to carry them through the season (scan your inbox now for a few examples), others use the holidays to truly shine — by offering just the right message, offer, or inspiration at just the right time to spread joy and reduce stress.
Thrive Market is a health-conscious online grocery retailer with a social mission to make healthy eating accessible to all. As one of the most important food holidays in the US, Thanksgiving is a big deal to all grocery retailers, and Thrive is no exception. Thrive Market does holiday email marketing the right way — by providing value at every step of the planning process through a deep, insightful understanding of their users’ needs. They understand turkey stress and pie insecurity and they do everything they can to help.
Enjoy this deep dive into Thrive Market’s Thanksgiving subject lines and emails — why and how they make life easier for their members.
(Warning: Reading this post might cause insane pie cravings.)
Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to its members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families. Their unique business model makes organic, sustainably produced food more accessible for everyone.
For a membership fee of $60, members receive access to an organic/healthy food wonderland, which is organized by food category or by values — such as gluten-free, paleo, or vegan. Prices on these speciality foods are 25–50% lower than they would be at healthy grocers like Whole Foods — making them more accessible to everyday people. I’ve always appreciated Thrive’s lower prices, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with celiac disease and had to go on a strict, 100% gluten-free diet that I really understood how valuable they were.
No box of crackers should be $6.45:
I’ve been a Thrive member for about a year and a half, and can attest to the power of both their mission and their email marketing. Emails from Thrive Market make it easy to keep my pantry stocked with nutritious options. By offering enriching, educational, helpful, and promotional content with enticing subject lines, their emails keep me opening and reading.
Almost every day, Thrive features an exclusive offer on one of their products — often, a free, full-sized version of a new, fun food or a generous discount on a popular product line. With a minimum order of $49, members receive this gift and free shipping on your order.
These free gifts have introduced me to nutritious and exotic foods like mushroom teas, fermented turmeric powder, pressed vegetable chips, and raw coconut butter.
Thrive’s emails aren’t exclusively promotional, however — in fact, about 40% aren’t, according to MailCharts. The rest of their emails are a mix of cooking inspiration, educational goodness, and helpful reminders to restock frequently-purchased ingredients (especially the super important ones like chocolate coconut butter cups).
If you’ve ever been responsible for the Thanksgiving meal, you know a few things to be true:
Thrive Market recognizes that it can provide its members a lot of value during what can be a stressful time — by sending the right message at the same time, they help members save money and stress throughout the Thanksgiving planning process.
Here’s a breakdown of my favorite emails and subject lines from last year, in chronological order.
Thanksgiving is coming! Get feast-ready right here.
Halloween is over, and it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. The casual vibe of this email’s subject line meets members where they are in the planning process. Thrive Market recognizes that now is not (yet) the time to pressure members into planning — so instead of saying, “Thanksgiving is coming! Are you ready?” (which might incite panic), they casually suggest: “Thanksgiving is coming! Get feast-ready right here.” With this friendly subject line, they’re saying: Thanksgiving is coming, and we’ve got you covered whenever you want to start planning.
The email itself features a lovely, festive image to get members excited about Thanksgiving. “Skip the store. We’ll bring it all to you,” further solidifies the brand promise that Thrive Market will help make Thanksgiving easy.
A great Thanksgiving meal starts with this…
It’s still a few weeks before Thanksgiving, so we haven’t yet entered the panic zone — but it might be smart to start crossing items off your to-do list. This intriguing subject line (A great Thanksgiving starts with this…) comes as a friendly nudge to say, “I’m not telling you what to do, but if you’re looking for a place to get started, here it is.”
The body of the email reads, “Can’t do Thanksgiving without ‘em,” and features a selection of seasonally appropriate pantry staples from Pacific Foods — such as cranberry sauce, pumpkin puree, and chicken stock. The first email helped members mentally prepare for Thanksgiving prep — this email guides them towards an actionable first step.
Your favorite free gift is back!
Health nuts rely on coconut oil for everything, from roasting vegetables to conditioning their hair to babysitting their children (only half-kidding). This offer, sent two weeks before Thanksgiving, is rooted in pure utility — as if Thrive is saying, “You and I both know you’ll be using gobs of this stuff in your Thanksgiving cooking, friend. Here’s some for free.”
The simple, personalized subject line — “Your favorite free gift is back!” is utterly clickable, and the no-nonsense offer delivers the helpfulness and utility members are looking for two weeks before Thanksgiving. If members have been hesitating to place their order, this offer provides the push they need to get it done.
Save on Thanksgiving must-haves without going anywhere
It’s 10 days before Thanksgiving! Grocery stores are overflowing with people elbowing each other for the last bag of cranberries, can of pumpkin puree, and box of turkey stock. It’s already a zoo out there — and it’s only going to get more intense as turkey day inches closer.
This subject line demonstrates an understanding of the emotions involved in last-minute Thanksgiving planning. It hooks members in with the “without going anywhere” line, and then the body copy (Thanksgiving is only 10 days away…) coaxes members into placing an order.
The ultimate Thanksgiving meal inspiration, inside!
About a week before Thanksgiving is when people start solidifying their menus, and panicking about what they’re going to do with the bird. This is why, after a string of promotional emails, Thrive breaks it up with a helpful recipe — specifically, a turkey recipe featuring (yes, you guessed it) the free coconut oil from the offer! Clever stuff.
This email does have another purpose: It features a moving banner that reminds members to place their orders if they want to receive them before the holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving! See the difference you made this year
On the big day, Thrive Market decides to focus on its social mission — sharing how all your stock and pumpkin pure- buying is making a difference in the lives of others. No promotion, no gimmicks — just a message to make you feel warm and fuzzy all over.
This works for two reasons: First, it aligns emotionally with the holiday. If users are checking email or social media on turkey day, it’s to share pictures, connect with others, and bask in the holiday spirit. The humbling and grounded message of this email fits the vibe.
Second, this message makes users feel good: See the difference you made this year. This message gives users a pat on the back — reminding them that while Thrive Market is helping them, it’s also helping others.
The goal for any holiday campaign should be to uplift, inspire, and help create a meaningful holiday experience for the user. Thrive Market’s approach works because does precisely this: It adds value at every step of the way. These Thanksgiving emails actually made my life easier last year — I bought nearly all of my pantry items for Thanksgiving from Thrive Market because of this holiday campaign. Buying my pantry ingredients online meant that I didn’t have to fight crowds and pay markups on seasonal ingredients at the grocery store — I was able to get the (gluten-free) brands I wanted, delivered to my door, at a reasonable price.
If you’re struggling to find ways to retrofit holiday puns/imagery into your marketing campaigns, think bigger: Identify the experience your users might be having, and find ways to add value to that experience.
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