We all have a friend who (or we), when asked the question, “What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?”, will roll their eyes and reply with the most colorless tone, “I don’t buy into this marketing celebration of consumerism” or something to that effect.
Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, Dry January, Back to School, Halloween… There are now so many occasions created by retailers and marketers in order to price discount, run competitions, and ultimately boost sales. No wonder consumers can be skeptical and dismissive. The wide variety of tools and shopping evolutions (e.g., price comparators, shopping apps, forums, rise of convenience and "locally produced" stores) has evolved consumers’ purchase influencers. Therefore, the relationship between the retailer and its consumers has to change and adapt.
To better understand this shift, take a look at the most recent addition to the promotional occasion list, Blue Monday. Blue Monday occurs on the third Monday of every January and is deemed the most depressing day of the year. It was introduced in the early 2000s by a holiday company that claimed to have used a mathematical formula that considered factors such as weather, debt, salary, time since Christmas, and motivation among other things to declare this holiday (all of which has been disproved by psychology experts and scholars).
Yet many retailers use this seemingly made-up holiday on a wider basis every year. This could be attributed to the fact that consumers can relate to this depressing time of the year on many levels: it’s cold, post-Christmas weight, post-Christmas debts, failing New Year’s resolutions, summer sunshine seeming ever so far away… There is definitely an opportunity for retailers to say, “Come and treat yourself with something nice!”
Here are examples of brand tweets and promotions using Blue Monday:
We have seen two key retailers use the occasion differently. Tesco, the supermarket giant, offered free food in many stores across the U.K. for a couple of hours, and on-the-go chain Pret announced it would be distributing 100,000 free coffees.
Both initiatives (only available on Blue Monday) use this “special occasion” to connect directly with consumers, driving them to stores, creating a sense of exclusivity (and urgency), and ultimately leaving the consumers with a much-longer-lasting positive sentiment than a simple win or discount.
This raises an interesting question: how can brands take advantage of such moment-based promotional occasions in a way that will inspire and engage the consumer’s mind.
There is no doubt that industries and brands will come up with other Blue Mondays or Black Fridays over the years. The challenge for retailers will then be to spin such occasions in a disruptive way that will be perceived as added value.
Contributed by: Celia Gosse, Integer London
Image Source: The Mirror, Twitter (@THEOUTNET.COM, @GrahamandGreen, @9BAR_Official)