Cinco de Mayo - A Case Study in American's Love Affair With Celebrations

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. 

Surprised? That’d put you in a group with the large number of Americans who have come to know the date as, “Drinko de Mayo” or “Cinco de Drinko.” (NOTE: Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates a battle won in 1862 by undermanned and under-equipped Mexican forces over the mighty French Army).

Ranking 48th in the world in per capita alcohol consumption, Americans like drinking. They don't love it… at least when compared to the true drinkers of the world (Belarus drinks 90% more per capita than the U.S.!), but it's certainly a huge part of the culture.

What Americans do love, however, is having a reason to drink. They will pretty much celebrate anything (check out the rules to this Arbor Day drinking game). So when beer companies came up with the idea in the 1980s to push Cinco de Mayo as a celebration in the U.S., Americans flocked to it like ants on a fallen ice cream cone.

So how do Americans commemorate this all-important battle of the Franco-Mexican War? By going to Mexican Restaurants, obviously. In fact, the holiday boosted typical revenues of Mexican Restaurants by a whopping 140% this year.

So would any Mexican Restaurant suffice? The graph below shows the revenue increases of Mexican Restaurants, broken down by the availability of alcohol:


Clearly just serving up quesadillas and tacos was enough to drive significant gains. Mexican Restaurants serving no alcohol saw a 75% increase in revenues.

Meanwhile, burritos and beer was an ever greater boon. Mexican Restaurants serving beer (i.e. no hard alcohol) saw their revenues increase by 110%.

The real winners, however, were the full bar Mexican Restaurants. These establishments saw their business nearly triple on Cinco de Mayo, with 197% revenue gains.

So to all of the associations out there promoting National Fried Chicken Day, Donut Day, or any of the other “Day” meant to promote businesses in your category, I wish you the best of luck. Just remember, if you’re ever finding that you need a little extra boost to get your holiday over the top, I have two words for you….. Tequila shots.


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