Holiday and seasonal promotions are the go times for the majority of consumer packaged goods (CPG) businesses. Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year, 4th July, or any other significant holidays, brands from all industries get ready to promote their businesses in line with annual events.
Because they happen every year, consumers wait in anticipation for them - ready to bag a good deal. It’s always hectic in the run up to a seasonal promotion - some businesses can generate the majority of their sales or revenue in these periods.
CPGs often lay out their strategies months in advance, to ensure that they can meet the increased demand. It’s not only an opportunity for them to reach their key goals, it’s a chance to clear out seasonal inventory to make way for the next.
Having a robust online strategy is key to a successful CPG seasonal campaign
The majority of consumers will be checking online to find out where the best sales are and whether or not their favorite brands are taking part - so you’ll want to make sure that they can find you. Some will shop directly online to avoid the crowds that can often gather in stores in these busy periods.
So, where to begin? How do you create an online strategy for seasonal promotions? What needs to be covered? All will be answered right here.
A framework for your CPGs strategy for holiday periods
Plan in advance
Don’t let the holidays spring up on you. You may think that you have plenty of time, but there’s always another event just around the corner. Many big brands will have their Christmas strategies nailed by September, maybe even the end of August!
That may sound surprising, but there is so much to plan. The more planning that you put in beforehand, the more smoothly things will operate when the time comes. Plus, you can always reuse successful aspects of your plan for the next promotion.
Here’s an actionable checklist to consider when planning:
Review what sold well
If you’ve run seasonal promotions before, it’s always good to refer back to them to get a head start on this year. Which products sold well? If you manufacture food and beverage products and in previous years all of your festive flavors have sold out, it might be a good idea to increase inventory this year, to maximize profits.
Review what didn’t sell well
Do you know why they didn’t sell well? Is it worth trying again this year, or would it be more cost effective to halt production and focus your efforts elsewhere?
Carry out a risk assessment
While optimism is always good for business, it’s also important to consider where things could go wrong. A good risk assessment will note all possible risks that could occur, as well as what impact they would have on the overall project. What preventative measures are you putting in place? What will you do if the risks occur? How will you correct them?
Prepare your website
How would your website cope if it were to receive an influx of visitors on Black Friday? If it crashed, it could take a long time to get it back up and running. Then you’ll have missed out on a lot of sales. Carry out all the necessary checks to ensure that the website is running smoothly and that there aren’t any bugs that will annoy customers.
Beyond the operational side of things, plan how your website will look in the holiday period. Will you switch up your colors? Make it look like snow is falling across your customers’ screens at Christmas? Shoot hearts out of their cursor on Valentine’s Day? These small details can really put a smile on consumers’ faces.
It seems that CPG businesses can never truly escape market research - and for good reason! You need to know what your competitors have done before, to make sure that you’re doing better.
If you can figure out what they’re up to this year, then even better!
In the same way that you reviewed your own company’s performance last year, do the same for your competitors. You might get some great ideas, or perhaps you’ll know what to steer clear of. Some brands have started offering their Black Friday promotions as early as October, to capitalize on early spenders, is this something you’re looking to do?
Get your team involved
If possible, get the whole company involved in ideation. Bounce ideas off of each other. Everyone experiences the holidays in their own ways as consumers and could bring their own ideas to the table. They may have even seen something from outside your particular industry, which could work well for your brand too!
With a little market research, you’ll find that some consumers are becoming weary of promotions like the Black Friday sales. Environmentally conscious consumers would argue that Black Friday promotes overconsumption to the extreme. As a result, ‘Green Friday’ was born.
Think about going green?
If your CPG values the environment or sustainability at the core of its business, it might be a good idea to look more into Green Friday rather than Black Friday.
Essentially, rather than heavily discounting your goods, you could use your profits from that day for a purpose. Last year, many brands donated a portion of their profits from Green Friday to charities that aligned with their values. You could take the opportunity to plant trees, or participate in beach and ocean clean ups.
Sure, you’ve got the great products, but it’s great merchandising that will get them to sell. Yes, this applies to your online presence too!
In the same way that you’d want your best-sellers to be displayed at the front of supermarket shelves, you’ll want them to be front and center of your homepage. If your customers have to spend too long looking for them, or they’re not easily accessible within a few clicks, you might lose their custom - especially in a period as fast-paced and hectic as holiday sales.
Get your SEO strategy in line. Ensure that your pages are optimized, containing all of the keywords surrounding the promotion and your products that consumers will be searching for. You want your brand to be as near to the top of search engine results as possible to generate the most traffic, so don’t neglect it!
Don’t forget to track the activity on your website too. It’s this data that will prove extremely useful to you this time next year.
Advertising is essential to seasonal promotions. If your customers aren’t aware of your sales or deals, they might not even think to check.
While getting your customers to open your marketing emails at any other time of the year can be a seemingly-impossible task, the open rate tends to shoot up during seasonal promotions. A huge 84% of consumers turn to their emails during holiday periods to seek out sales and great discounts.
Not only will you need to simply make customers aware of your promotions, you’ll need to make sure that they follow through on their purchases. Plenty of them will add your product to their basket, then exit the tab. Stay top of mind and draw them back in with a follow-up email - an extra 5% off might just change their minds.
This is your chance to get super creative and have some fun. Brands often battle it out across seasonal promotions to get the most attention and showcase their brand personality.
Remember when we said to get the whole company involved to share ideas? Run your social campaigns past all members of staff. If a campaign could be misinterpreted in any way, you need to be aware of it and perhaps make some changes.
Let us refer back to that International Women’s Day when Burger King tweeted that ‘Women belong in the kitchen’. It turned out to be a ‘click-bait’ type tweet to promote their initiative to increase the number of women in head-chef roles - but consumers weren’t convinced.
Some tweeters pointed out that there were other ways to promote this program without playing on ‘the most sexist trope ever’. Always read the room!
With all the extra sales you’ll be drumming up, you’ll need to make sure that you can meet the demand. From the website load to manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution, you’ll need to make all team members aware of the upcoming surge - as well as which products are predicted to be the most popular.
Transportation can easily become overwhelmed in holiday periods due to the increased demand. It might be worth looking into distributors who can help to get your products delivered.
Say someone like us!
We’re the leading distributor of mission-led food and beverage CPGs. We’ve helped hundreds of brands navigate their way through successful seasonal promotions and beyond. So if you’d like to call upon our specialized distribution services, now is the time!