Seasonality is a key factor in dictating consumer buying patterns and habits in any industry. Whether it’s travel, fashion or sport, we engage with industries in different ways at different times of the year. With fashion, for example, we’ll look for warmer clothing in the autumn and winter and cooler clothing as we move into spring and summer.
The focus for this article is the food and supermarket industry, specifically how seasonality and specific annual events can shape the marketing strategies of top UK supermarkets. We’ll also explore how consumer behaviour progresses with the seasons and why identifying and capitalising on this should be at the forefront of any supermarket’s marketing plan.
However, no one holiday or event is the same. Supermarket marketing strategies must be tailored to react and adapt to shifting trends that change day by day, week by week, and month by month. Here we list shoppers’ favourite holidays and events and explore how supermarkets can take advantage to push their seasonal products and ensure they are capitalising on holiday spikes.
As we know, Christmas is the most talked-about holiday of the year – it’s also the one that encourages the most consumer spending. From presents to food, consumers go all out on premium goods, all for that one special day of the year. But it’s the run-up to Christmas where the supermarket marketing strategies and consumer behaviours go into overdrive. Just last year UK supermarkets enjoyed a record-breaking festive period as shoppers splashed out to ignite the biggest supermarket growth since 2014.
To gain a perspective of how supermarket search traffic spikes in the festive period, below is a graph from our previous article: ‘The Digital Marketing of the UK’s top 5 Supermarkets’.
The two spikes on each of the top 5 supermarkets on the left of these charts represent Black Friday, the run-up to Christmas and the actual festive period. These spikes are the time of year where supermarket-related search queries, and therefore customer buying intention, are at their peak.
The festive period is so valuable to all supermarkets and food retailers that seasonal marketing strategies are drawn up many months in advance. It is so vital for supermarkets to stay ahead of curve around Christmas as it can be pivotal to a supermarket’s annual financial performance.
The classic example of food being associated with an annual event is Christmas Turkey, and this is witnessed in the significant spike in searches for that term around Christmas in comparison with the rest of the year. The same applies for ‘decorations’ and ‘christmas trees’, which both enjoy peak search traffic in the build up to Christmas i.e. late November and early December.
Halloween is a holiday that grows in popularity year on year. 2017 is set to be another record breaking year in terms of total revenue as more and more shoppers indulge in the festivities, which include fancy-dress costumes, lots of confectionary and, of course, pumpkins. In the USA, the Halloween period is forecasted to generate a whopping $9.1 billion in revenue, as consumers increase their average spend tenfold and brands conjure more innovative and interactive Halloween marketing strategies to take advantage of the interest.
The two items synonymous with Halloween are ‘pumpkins’ and ‘fancy dress’. The volume of search traffic for the term ‘Pumpkin’ can be seen below and, of course, it spikes in the run-up to Halloween. However, the interest begins as early as September, while searches for ‘fancy dress’ start building towards the end of August. This kind of information can be invaluable to brands looking to take advantage of seasonality, and underlines that it’s not just the events themselves that generate the interest, but the build-up as well.
Other Spikes of Interest Related To Seasonality
Throughout the year there are different foods associated with events and weather. Below are examples of ‘Strawberries and Cream’, ‘Toffee Apple’ and ‘BBQ Food’.
Strawberries & Cream: This term spikes around the world famous Tennis Championships, Wimbledon. Strawberries & Cream have long been a traditional item of food for spectators on centre court and for spectators at home, so it’s little surprise that it peaks around the time the tournament is taking place.
Toffee Apple: Another food typically consumed at one specific time of year, Toffee Apples generates huge interest around Bonfire Night. However, the upward trend gets underway long before then – in August. Brands looking to sell more Toffee Apples and the ingredients to make them should, therefore, be gathering stock and pushing marketing in late summer.
BBQ Food: This is the most difficult seasonal food to prepare for. Of course, supermarkets can stock up and push out marketing in summer, but customers’ desire to have a BBQ depends on the weather – and in the UK, even during the summer, that’s highly unpredictable. A reactive approach based upon seasonality is therefore important, as it allows brands to serve advertising when there’s likely to be the most interest.
The Food Wheel
For a clearer view of seasonality, the BBC created an impressive food wheel which makes seasonal food and search behaviour more visual by breaking it down into an easily digestible, colour coded chart. To see a larger version of the chart please click here.
The opportunity for supermarkets to promote their brand and drive sales by reacting to seasonal events is massive; the tricky bit is staying ahead of the field and offering something to give the competitive edge. Being reactive and capitlising on micro-moments is one key technique supermarkets need to nail if they are to keep pace with the ferocious speed consumer behaviour is changing at. mporium IMPACT can help brands do just that, and give them the chance to deliver seasonal marketing in line with the micro moments that appear all year round.
Let’s talk to see how mporium IMPACT can work for you…