In January of 2021, experiential marketing tactics, affectionately known as Micro-Experiences, were taking the retail world by storm across all industries. It was widely understood that the way to bond with your customers, both prospective and recurring, was to provide a meaningful and memorable in-store experience. With the coronavirus pandemic taking a worldwide stage in March, these efforts were obviously put on hold.
The U.S. is now rounding out its eighth month in the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to rise in a third wave across the world. With the holiday season soon approaching, retailers, especially grocers, are looking to strengthen their relationships with consumers after e-commerce and delivery challenges put a strain on the grocer/shopper relationship.
Grocers obviously want their shoppers to return to the stores, but only when safe. While you can’t host the caliber of in-store activations now that you could at the beginning of the year, a hybrid version of in-store activations and events will show shoppers that you’re invested in their well being and that you’re ready to welcome them back with open arms once they feel comfortable shopping in-person again.
One of the most popular in-store activations for grocers is a cooking demonstration or class. While it isn’t safe to host 10-12 individuals and all be touching and preparing food together now, consider selling tickets for a virtual cooking class. Choose a day and time (and a wonderful chef to host) and sell prepared bags of all of the foods they’ll need to make the dish at home. If you play your cards right marketing wise, this could turn into a highly sought-after virtual event in your community. You could even go the extra mile this holiday season by donating 100% of the profits of the prepared bags to a local charity of your choosing to reinforce your love and care of the community.
One of the few joys of 2021 has been the resurgence of the drive-in movie. Baseball fields, warehouses, and many businesses that have extra space to offer have repurposed their facilities to get back to the entertainment roots of the 1950’s. Everyone loves a great holiday movie, so consider renting a large outdoor screen and turning your parking lot into a holiday drive in. You could sell concessions or bites from your deli and prepared food section or hire local food trucks as vendors. This could also be a great way to increase sales during later hours of the day that are usually known as store downtime or restocking time.
For grocers especially, the holiday season is busy with food drives and donations. As cases continue to rise, the likelihood of donations matching previous years is dwindling. Consider setting up an effort to donate $X for $X sold on certain holiday items to local food banks or organizations that could use the extra help.
Finally, to spread a little holiday cheer, consider putting together simple goodie bags that you can drop off in surrounding neighborhoods and communities that include holiday favorites – baked goods, family activities, coupons for later in the year, or anything that you think would brighten your communities season. In these times, a little goes a long way.