Marketing Budget Planning: 4 Reasons Brands Should Invest in Field Marketing During Q1
According to the National Retail Federation, the winter holidays (particularly the month of November and December) is the period that yields the most overall consumer spending out of the entire year.
Hence, Q4 is a huge emphasis for many businesses in the consumables industries, targeting the influx of shoppers who are willingly prepared to empty their wallets on gifts, decorations, and food. It’s not uncommon for brands to fall into this trend, allotting a large portion of their marketing budget for end-of-the-year promotions, only to be followed by a drawback during the start of the new year.
But what brands may be overlooking in this scenario is the huge potential and competitive advantage that a shifted focus could bring. Instead of pairing all the attention of product promotions and in-store samplings with the busyness of the holiday season shopping, what would happen if brands viewed the first quarter of the year with just as much intentionality?
In fact, all things considered, the beginning of the year actually seems to be the ideal time to optimize in product promotions within retail grocery stores for food and beverage brands, including alcoholic beverage brands. Continue reading to see four important reasons why:
1. INCREASED CONSUMER SPENDING
The Census Bureau’s monthly retail trade report for U.S. grocery stores shows a consistent increase in spending within the first few months of the year over the end of the previous year:
To put this theory to the test, we did a little bit of research ourselves and gathered some data from one of our own recent sampling programs.
An off-premise sampling program for Health Lab protein balls ran for two months in the last quarter of 2018 and into the first two months of quarter one in 2019. To make the data from these as comparable as possible, we focused solely on tastings executed in H-E-B supermarket locations dispersed throughout the state of Texas, which amounted to a total of 32 completed demos in October and November of 2018 verses 14 completed demos in January and February of 2019. Other than the variance of just a few demo location sites, the tasting times, POS, and other factors remained the same.
The results of the data concluded the following: the average number of units sold per demo in 2019 (Q1) was higher than the average number of units sold per demo in 2018 (Q4), at 44.69 and 33.57 respectively.
While it is important to consider that this program was not an experiment with controlled factors and therefore does not have perfect comparable data to draw conclusions from, the average sales results per demo in the different quarters speak for themselves.
But why are these numbers true, despite the popular belief that holiday shopping is where people spend most of their money? While the hype of the holidays—along with excessive and superfluous purchases—may come to an end with the start of the new year, the necessity for consumers to visit grocery stores is ongoing. Just because the need to buy gifts for others or provide food and beverages for celebrations no longer exists in such a large capacity, people continue to make their scheduled store visits to purchase what they need, at the bare minimum.
According to Statistica, shoppers in the U.S. made about 1.6 trips to grocery stores on average per week in 2018. Statistica also concluded that even though online grocery shopping has existed for years, the vast majority of consumers still prefer to buy groceries in stores.
2. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
The slight increase in consumer spending within grocery stores isn’t the only incentive for Q1 promotions. Even if this increase did not exist and grocery store consumer spending remained level through the transition from Q4 into Q1, promotions at the beginning of the year would still create an automatic competitive advantage.
The mere lack of competition.
Because brands tend to get so wrapped up in holiday promotions and expect the following months to be slow, there are not nearly as many promotions executed during the first quarter of the year. Therefore, brands who choose to promote their products at this time have a huge advantage over their competition and are much more likely to set themselves apart.
It’s much easier to close a sale with shoppers who are introduced to new products without being simultaneously bombarded with an endless variety of others to choose from. It’s much easier to develop a positive relationship with retailers and managers who recognize your brand’s extra care (and supported, ongoing sales) when many other brands are left unattended to.
3. “NEW YEAR, NEW ME” MENTALITY
It’s not the beginning of the year without resolutions! The new year is a time for many to reflect on setting goals for improvement, many of which are health-related. This is the perfect opportunity for health and wellness brands to connect with consumers who are actively seeking for products and solutions to help them reach their goals.
4. HOLIDAYS AND EVENTS
The last few months of the year may be filled with holidays and celebrations, but that doesn’t stop with the new year! Here are some notable holidays and events during the first quarter of the year that are imperative for brands capitalize on: Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and Saint Patrick’s Day. Product promotions and merchandising throughout this season can help build momentum and increase purchases leading up to these events.
It is important to consider various factors such as these when planning a marketing budget. Companies take the time to invest in field marketing components such as brand training and POS or giveaways, so it is imperative that brands also factor into account the best season for gaining the most ROI with every single activation executed.
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