Seasonal marketing - opportunity or gimmick?
Every year, you can guarantee that we will be celebrating the same big cyclical calendar occasions, from Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to Christmas and Easter. Many of these date back hundreds and thousands of years – an example being Mother’s Day which was originally a large celebration held to honour the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, the ancient Roman and Greek goddesses.
With Mother’s Day just gone and Easter weekend on its way, we thought now was a better time than ever to discuss seasonal marketing. So, should you launch something new by piggybacking off an occasion that comes around each year?
Pros and cons.
There are pros and cons. On the upside, there is heightened consumer demand for buying new stuff and footfall numbers tend to peak around these occasions. On the downside, every other brand out there has the same idea and is likely to be promoting the hell out of their established products. Getting cut through takes real skill.
Seasonal marketing masters.
We can learn a lot from retail brands. They have become masters at launching around annual occasions and, as a consequence, rely heavily on these periods to drive sales. These brands know that customers are already actively looking to spend their cash so marketers don’t need to focus their campaigns on convincing customers why they should be buying their product at that particular time of the year.
One stand-out seasonal marketing campaign this year was by Aldi for Mother’s Day. They started a massive PR drive on 21 February 2018 with their controversial ‘Jo Malone inspired’ beauty range – very similar in style but 93% cheaper. The product only went on sale on 1 March 2018. Their cut through technique of distributing their new products to all the influential media outlets and influencers first before the release into their outlets kicked up a storm. They really built the hype before the launch and surprised the market with a focus on one product range that you just wouldn’t expect to find in Aldi.
Here are some points to think about when considering a launch around annual occasions:
Campaign cut through is the key to launching successfully over these busy periods. In order to make any headway in the sea of competitors vying for the same limelight, you have to be single-minded, with a crystal clear message and preferably do something unexpected. Plan and execute your campaign as if you were a challenger brand in a scale-up company. Adopt their methods and stick to it. Avoid at all costs the ‘watering down’ of an idea and break the mould in terms of how and where you communicate. A ‘business as usual’ approach simply won’t work.
Don’t make a half-hearted attempt, commit yourselves fully to the launch and have the belief that it will work right through to after the launch has happened. Spend time aligning other internal departments – sales, customer service and finance – to your idea and explain why it will deliver a better result for them.
Don’t kid yourself. If your product isn’t ideally suited or relevant to a particular annual occasion, don’t use seasonal marketing to launch it then. It is amazing to see how some brands have got this so wrong and it will result in failure, guaranteed. If you are launching a new product to coincide with Mother’s Day, make sure that it is not a male grooming kit or a new bikini for Easter (I appreciate that some people might go to a hot country for Easter but this messaging may well be lost on the majority of the population!).
If your product is perfectly suited, then go a few steps further than other brands. Immerse yourself in understanding the customer. If you truly understand their hopes, fears, mindset and attitude towards the occasion and how your product can fulfil a need, then you will be better placed to engage with them on a whole different level. Cut through is not just about how loud you shout but how well you sing. You want to be music to their ears, not just background noise.
Time it right.
Seasonal marketing tends to be focused on short-termism and sales offers. Very much a case of “here today, gone tomorrow”. Not many brands launch products around an occasion without an explicit sales target in mind. The world is awash with price and offer-driven marketing on these occasions. This presents a great time to say something different.
As many marketers will know, consumers tend to follow a customer journey or path* to purchase (Awareness, Familiarity, Consideration, Purchase and Loyalty). This journey can be short and spontaneous – buying a can of Coke – or long and well-considered – buying an Audi A4. What is true of any new launch is that you are at the very start of your journey and consumers are receptive and expect new things at these times of year. Spend time building anticipation before the occasion itself and reveal your new product in a single, short sharp burst. Avoid falling into the trap of slapping a price offer on your advertising if you are revealing your new product for the first time.
If you are interested in what you have read, check out another post we have done on 4 brands that have successfully launched a product in connection with an event which has a similar approach to seasonal marketing.
By Alexis Eyre
Head of Marketing