The Power of Occasion Based Shopper Marketing

People love a good reason to celebrate. Nearly 60% of Americans say they plan to watch a “great deal” or “fair amount” of the Olympics. Australians say they’ll spend $2.7 billion (USD) on Olympic parties. Add in 6 or 7 annual occasions (Superbowl, Valentines Day, Easter, Mother’s & Father’s Days, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Back-to-School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, just to name a few)  and you have the makings of retail opportunity.

Recently, at the 12th annual Shopper Insights in Action conference sponsored by IIR USA, Christian Thompson, Senior Director of Shopper Insights at Kellogg Company, shared a bit of their learning on Back-to-School. 

  • Shopper preparation is similar to non-occasion shopping. That is, they take a similar path to purchase: lists, flyers, coupons, etc.
  • Timing is critical. Businesses need to research and execute the best week in advance. Food purchases tend to be made a week or less in advance, event items 2 or more weeks in advance. And shoppers at different retailers tend to have different timing (e.g., Walmart shoppers 1 week in advance vs. Target shoppers 2 weeks in advance).
  • Partnering makes sense. Food retailers tend to win food based events, mass merchandisers win food + item based events. So, if you’re a food business and Back-to-School makes sense for your product categories, you may want to partner up with backpacks, clothing or supplies vendors and go to market together.

Additionally (though Kellogg didn’t say this, they practice it), it makes sense to find the occasions that make sense for your product portfolio and appropriately “window” in order to optimally allocate marketing dollars and new product introductions. Occasion based marketing is critical because that may be the primary time shoppers are shopping your categories. Each business needs to have its own well thought out occasion based marketing strategy.