Events act as key milestones throughout the year that retailers and brands can tap into to drive brand relevancy and spark excitement with shoppers. Whether an event is focused around an upcoming sporting tournament or supporting key gifting occasions such as Christmas, it ultimately provides an excellent opportunity for retailers to interact with their customers. However, when it comes to retailer-led events, it's essential that they align with wider trading priorities in order to maximise impact and most importantly, sales.
So how can events be effectively integrated into a retailer's wider trading priorities? Fundamentally it comes down to three areas: maximising a retailer’s key bets, understanding how shoppers behave and being reactive to shopper trends.
All retailers champion key values which they know resonate with their customer base, notably - sustainability, value and customer service. Take Co-op as an example - Fairtrade is a huge focus, with key incentives such as all their own-label coffee, tea and bananas being Fairtrade. Therefore, across Fairtrade Fortnight, not only do Co-op merchandise stores to give Fairtrade products greater shelf space, but they also invite brands to support their Fairtrade products through in-store media and head office events, which helps educate shoppers and colleagues about the value of Fairtrade. For Co-op, communicating this value through an event provides the retailer with a strong opportunity to position themselves as a socially responsible business, and helps them maximise a key point of difference.
We all know that understanding who your shopper is is - or at least should be - at the heart of any marketing campaign, and this same rule applies to events. Through a deep understanding of the shopper (demographics, missions, behaviours etc.) retailers are able to intelligently provide their shoppers with what they want, when they want it. Deliveroo showed this earlier this year through their Valentine’s Day campaign which leveraged their on-demand convenience grocery proposition and featured key gifting products, such as chocolates and wine, across the platform during the week running up to Valentine’s Day. Knowing that the majority of their shoppers' purchases are impulse and indulgence led and take place during the immediate run up to the weekend, Deliveroo upweighted their Valentine’s Day campaign in line with this. By doing this, not only did they maximise their position as a destination for last-minute gifting solutions but they also drove synergies with the natural shopper behaviours of their audience.
If the last year has taught us anything, it's that things change. Events are no different to this. The last year has seen big name events such as the Tokyo Olympics and Euros 2020 postponed and key milestones such as Christmas overshadowed by lockdown measures. Shopper behaviours change too. Since the pandemic, it has been reported that 8 in 10 people have taken up scratch cooking, as a result of spending more time at home. Many retailers have had to adapt their product offering in order to tap into this emerging trend. M&S have pioneered this switch in shopper behaviour through their Plant Kitchen offering which not only acts as a vegan option, but is positioned to attract a much broader range of consumers too. By creating an event that follows this shopper trend, rather than sticking to recurring, annual events, M&S have shown how valuable it can be to put the spotlight on something meaningful to today’s consumer.
Ultimately, retailers should be continually asking themselves how their events tie into what they stand for as a business, who their shoppers are and what shoppers want from them. The key to success always lies in the brand and retailer working in collaboration to recognise and tap into those ‘moments’ which resonate most with shoppers. This will deliver an enhanced shopper experience, and, in turn, powerful results for the brand and retailer in question.