Everybody in the consumer products business knows how important the winter holidays are to retail sales. But wait, there’s more, a whole lot more! In fact the entire year can be divided up into at least 9 selling seasons. Each one can have special significance for your product or service.
What most selling seasons have in common is that they begin right after the last 3-day bank holiday weekend and run through the next 3-day bank holiday weekend. During that period most retailers and smart producers are putting out signs, decorations, and trade dress on their consumer products in an effort to take advantage of the seasonal theme. In most cases, every seasonal selling promotion has to be scheduled substantially in advance to reserve display space, ad space and special pricing.
Let’s examine these selling seasons (theme-promotional periods) and the opportunities they present for producers to help their retailers decorate, celebrate, and move product:
- The Martin Luther King 3-day Weekend – the 3rd Monday in January celebrating the great civil rights leader. The selling seasons begins on January 2nd. It’s relatively short but this is the time when retailers try to sell off any unsold inventory they bought for the Christmas – New Year’s selling season. Expect big sales and volume discounts during this selling period, making it difficult to sell in when retailers want to reduce inventory. It’s a great time for snow sports and winter recreation, however.
- The Valentine’s Day- President’s Day Weekend – the 3rd Monday in February and because Valentine’s Day (February 14th) falls so close, we end up celebrating our two greatest presidents and romance around the same time. Super Bowl Sunday also occurs during this period. The period starts the day after MLK Day and is a month-long selling season. You guessed it, a perfect time for all thing romantic – flowers, chocolate, wine, pajamas, travel, restaurants – you get the picture. How can you make your product romantic?
- St Patrick’s Day – Easter. Although neither is a bank holiday, Good Friday is generally observed as a day off making Easter a 3-day weekend. Some years when Easter falls early, it’s very close to St Patrick’s Day which can combine the two into one selling season. When Easter falls late we can have an up to three-week Easter selling season. You get the idea, shamrocks, eggs, bunny’s and new items.
- Memorial Day – in honor of our military service people, the last Monday in May. It is also considered by many as the “official” first day of summer, with picnics and barbeques, outdoor activities, and vacation time. Discover how your product can fit in. This is a two-month selling season starting the day after Easter. The only big selling day in between is Mother’s day, the second Sunday in May, which obviously has its own theme.
- Independence Day. Depending on how close it comes to a weekend, it can be a 3 or 4 day weekend. Get out the red, white and blue! The Independence Day selling seasons starts the day after Memorial Day and continues with the summer vacation and recreational theme for over a month. The only other big selling day is Father’s Day, the 3rd Sunday in June.
Next time we will examine the last 4 selling seasons of the year and their commercial implications. But knowing what’s coming and how you can lever each one gives you a real advantage, if you sell with the seasons!
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Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
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