Do you remember when every business desk had a dictionary sitting on it? Well, with online applications like Spell Check, a hard copy of the dictionary as reference seems to be as obsolete as a phonebook. As innovators, we believe flipping through the dictionary can unlock some powerful ideas to spark innovative marketing efforts, so we’ve been focusing on its “magical” innovative powers for the last 1 ½ years in the hopes of inspiring your creativity. We are now up to the letter “S” in our Creative Thinking Made Easy: 26 Ways to find Innovation Inspiration from A-Z” book series.
“S is for Season,”Seasonal Marketing and how appropriate we post this particular blog as the changing color of the leaves and crisp mornings tell us that Fall weather is now upon us. Let’s start creating some great new ideas with the power of Seasonal Marketing!
SEASON is defined as:
• One of the four periods of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter), beginning astronomically at an equinox or solstice
• A period of the year characterized by particular conditions of weather, temperature
• A period of the year when something is best or available
Let’s face it – seasonal items sell. They seem to grab our attention for many reasons. Some simply because it’s the spirit of the particular holiday, nostalgia, or just because these flavors, scents, or decorative items are not made available at any other time of the year. This “limited time only” phenomena tends to create a “buying frenzy,” urging consumers to stock up and enjoy them for as long as they can – often well beyond the particular holiday. So can SEASON be a good strategy for your business? We think so, no matter what category you’re playing in.
Let’s look at what used to be a very limited marshmallow treat offering at Easter. I have a particular affection for Peeps (manufactured by Just Born) – those cute yellow chick-shaped marshmallows that you only used to see around Easter. They were a big part of my childhood and represented the symbol for Easter just as much as the chocolate Bunny in the basket. Well, it’s true you either love them or hate them (honestly, I think they taste best when they are a little “hard” to chew – weird, I know!). But in an effort to expand the Peep franchise, the marketing team started with some incremental steps that still focused solely on the Easter holiday by exploring new colors and shapes (like rainbow colored Peeps and purple and pink Bunnies) to expand their product offerings for Easter. Then, they got really crazy! And before you knew it, the Peeps business exploded beyond Easter to all major holidays. And they didn’t stop there. They have also incorporated limited edition flavors into the mix. Holiday flavors like Gingerbread, Sugar Cookie, and Candy Cane – with some varieties even dipped or coated in chocolate. Now you can find Peeps for Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Summer. The little yellow chick has come a long way baby!
And let’s not forget about the power of the non-traditional SEASONS that can make or break a sales forecast – like Super Bowl, March Madness, Spring Break, Back To School, and the newest biggie time of year, Back To College. There is a natural up-tick in sales with back-to-school supplies like Kleenex™ tissues, pump bottles of antibacterial soap, lunch boxes and sandwich bags, and who can deny seeing so many displays of beer and snack foods for Super Bowl and March Madness parties. And we all know the seasonal fluctuations and inventory rotations that naturally occur throughout the year with clothing and fashion accessories.
We are all affected by SEASONS, and in the world of CPG, some interesting SEASONAL adjustments are made. We hope some of these will inspire you to take action:
– Sports Illustrated Magazine – SI magazine stumbled upon their own SEASONAL product – the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition that has created amazing demand and profits for the magazine, as well as additional spin-off products like videos and calendars. Although we all know that sex appeal sells, by limiting this swimsuit edition to only one time a year, it has created a cult following particularly with the male audience. Can you create your own SEASONAL/LIMITED EDITION product that can do the same?
– Coke – The family oriented nature of this brand makes it important to reflect the spirit of the season into their products on the shelves, their merchandising displays, and their TV commercials. The lovable polar bears have been a long-time Coke tradition and they have created a holistic communication message by incorporating the polar bears into festive designs on their packaging too. Can you take advantage of a holistic marketing program that incorporates an ownable holiday icon?
– Jones Soda –They are probably most known for coming out with a crazy Thanksgiving pack in 2004. Jones Soda offered a completely drinkable Thanksgiving Dinner which included Turkey and Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry, Mashed Potatoes with Butter, and Fruitcake. No chunks, just a smooth liquid beverage in the bottle. This bizarre idea immediately struck a chord with the public and created a PR buzz that most brands only dream about. And what do people do when the bizarre comes out? They buy it up and start selling it on eBay. Some of these limited edition Jones Soda bottles (empty or full) and holiday packs have been sold for over $100.00 on eBay. Maybe it takes pushing the boundaries and diving into the world of “what would a brand NOT do” to gain unbelievable brand awareness and phenomenal sales overnight.
– Oreos – Milk’s favorite cookie isn’t afraid to step out of its comfort zone to generate some new consumer excitement. Oreos has traditionally only changed the color of the vanilla filling to coordinate with the holiday – red or green for Christmas, pastels for Spring/Easter, or orange for Halloween. But now it seems they are getting a bit more daring and actually changing the flavors of the filling to coordinate with the SEASON – like a Candy Cane flavor for the winter holidays, sherbert flavors for the summer, and now they’ve gone Halloween crazy with Candy Corn. We don’t know about you, but given the popularity of Halloween and Fall flavors, we think there will be lots more delicious Oreo limited edition flavors introduced in the near future.
Just like Coke, you don’t even need to change your product, just the packaging. And what better way to spark the interest of consumers to buy then to make it “giftable” or appropriately sized for stocking stuffers. A few examples are Dove Chocolates, Kleenex Tissues, and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. They have all changed their packaging for the SEASON.
The opportunities for SEASON are endless. So let’s get our thinking cap on and see how this can apply to your business. Does your product bring joy to its users? How can you delight your customers around the holidays. If your target is kids, how can your package turn into a simple toy? Or can it be sized just right for a stocking stuffer? Is there a multi-pack opportunity for school parties? Can your product be incorporated into a holiday promotional card? Is there a scent or flavor of the holidays that could work with your brand? What about an iconic color that could be changed as a “limited edition” item?
If you find you are stuck for ideas, or simply need some fresh perspective, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. We WANT to help you succeed with your innovation efforts. Being stuck for answers can hold you back and we know there has to be something on your mind. How many people will give you their time for FREE to help you out – not many I assure you. Yes, we are unique and that’s what we want you to find out. We are committed to helping you grow your brand substantially through added-value products and services. That is what market leaders do, so let’s get started.
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Innovation ROI is a leading up-front innovation firm that has a combined 38 years of expertise collaborating with top corporate innovation teams to create incredible, actionable business—building ideas. Collision Point™ is where INSIGHTS and IMAGINATION intersect to create powerful strategic ideas for success. Learn more about Innovation ROI at www.innovationroi.com.