Valentine’s Day is approaching, and it’s easy to see just how important this holiday is for certain retailers and brands. Local grocery stores are donning their pink and red decor, doubling their flower inventory, and the “candy section” seems to encapsulate half the store. If you’re a brand selling chocolates, greeting cards, or jewelry, chances are you’ve been prepping for this annual spending boom long before it was even on the mind of your consumers. The forecast is probably looking pretty good right about now.
But what if you work for a hot chocolate brand? November and December surely saw consumer spikes, but as we near spring and summer, how do you ensure your consumer relationships remain strong? How can you stay top of mind when your brand’s not selling?
Rest assured, there are strategies for brands to stay relevant during the yearly slumps. Here’s a few recommendations to retain brand presence, loyalty, and sales during your off-season:
Explore New Demographics
Perhaps your prime selling period has come and gone, and you’re left looking at the year ahead. While your sales aren’t currently at their peak, this could be a great time to explore alternative markets your brand can make an impact on. Does your product correlate with the weather? Try increasing your marketing spend to different geographical markets depending on the season. Consider cultural demographics as well: does your product align with celebrations or holidays outside of your typical target audience? Leverage your campaign dollars to gain awareness and favor among communities previously unfamiliar with your brand.
Follow The Trends
Going beyond demographics, staying up to date with rising trends provides additional outlets for off-season marketing. For example, the classic “Christmas in July” trend isn’t only used by Hallmark Channel: Amazon, Macy’s, QVC, Wayfair, and many others jump on the chance to host their Christmas in July sales. More recently, alc-bev brands are capitalizing on the popularity of “Dry January” by running campaigns focused around this rising trend. In January of 2022, Heineken invested roughly 10% of its advertising budget on a campaign centered around Heineken 0.0, their non-alcoholic beverage line. Tito’s, however, took a unique approach with their Dry January campaign. Their recent (and hilarious) commercial features DIY icon Martha Stewart as she explains the “useful” alternatives to drinking Tito’s vodka during Dry January. Within two weeks, the ad garnered over half a million views on YouTube alone, proving that even a vodka brand can benefit from a trend that’s based on abstaining from alcohol.
Embiggen Your Portfolio
Let’s say your brand sells pre-packaged frozen margaritas, but it’s the middle of February: sales are down, and summer (when you sell the most) is but a distant mirage. You might not have the power to start a “Summer in February” trend that’ll get people sipping your margaritas by a fire, but you could promote your brand new Frozen Peppermint Mocha line, centered around a winter campaign. By anticipating upcoming trends and seasons, you can shift your offering accordingly. To use another analogy, if ABC Landscaping Co. offers both lawn mowing and snow plowing services, they’ll stay busy year round.
Trying Something New
Unfortunately, when sales are down, it’s common for marketing budgets to be one of the first cutbacks. This, however, is arguably the most important time to connect with your consumers. Creativity can go a long way for renewing public interest in your business. Take, for example, Heineken’s latest Super Bowl ad promoting their non-alcoholic beer. Partnering with Marvel, Heineken brewed excitement around an untraditional beverage, garnering public interest in a small (but growing) product category.
Recognizing that your marketing budget may not be as deep as Heineken’s, you may have to consider creative alternatives to Super Bowl commercials. Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch. Brands today are combatting the off-season lulls by offering bundles (great for gifts!), product subscriptions, and unique content like recipes, sweepstakes, and seasonal specials. These consumer-facing activations are not only useful for preserving brand loyalty, but they can capture the attention of audiences you would otherwise not target.
Alternatively, consider a partnership to enrich your outreach. Vendors can provide innovative strategies to boost conversions when sales are low. If you’ll humor us, AdAdapted’s Add-To-List and Add-To-Cart solutions are great examples of alternative strategies to combat seasonal slumps. We build our audiences by focusing on intent and behavior, rather than generalizing consumer demographics. Through identifying and reaching in-market shoppers, we can guarantee you’ll see conversions - even in the off-season.
Depending on your company’s products or services, completely avoiding low profit periods may be an unattainable goal. However, the opportunity to connect with your consumers will always be open. If money is tight, shifting your marketing efforts towards cultural activities via social media or emailing could be an excellent starting point. Alternatively, these slumps can be combated by partnering with third party vendors. By designating a budget to conversion media solutions, you can take comfort in guaranteed performance, no matter the time of year.