WINTER IS COMING! Don’t let your brand get left out in the cold!

As the all too brief glimpses of the British summer flash past, many seasonal food and drink brands need to firm up their supermarket sales and marketing plans for Q3 and beyond. This article sets out a couple of important seasonal sampling ideas and experiential marketing strategies that show you how the winter season actually offers more opportunities for growth than you might expect for such a chilly time of year:

How to beat the seasonal range change

As there is so much competition in supermarkets for seasonal food and drink brands in winter, your brand could easily get the cold shoulder from consumers who just don’t see it or pay attention to it while browsing on aisle. So how can experiential sampling help your brand overcome this lack of presence in store? Sampling could be the answer, as your product will jump off the aisle and into the hands, minds and mouths of hungry shoppers! By positioning the event area at the front of store, your attractively presented tasters and brand proposition is clearly communicated to everyone on arrival.

Even on cold, wet and windy days, sampling converts sales. The impact of this huge increase in visibility was proven during a Q1 campaign for the microwavable burger brand, Feasters. Hot samples were given out at flagship supermarkets, backed up by an eye catching display that would either be set up in front of store or in the foyers when the winter weather was especially inclement. The results were consistently astonishing:  with some supermarkets achieving sales uplifts of over 450 individual units per store, on the day of activity.

Use winter locations to your advantage

When we think of sampling seasonal foods our first thought isn’t usually a chilly winter’s day. While outdoor food festivals are mainly the preserve of summer; autumn and winter both provide their own array of high yield sampling locations too. In chronological order, your brand could attend a targeted array of university freshers’ fairs, bonfire night events, busy train stations, bustling high streets, indoor shopping malls – and of course supermarkets.

In a campaign for the tasty Glorious Soup, we created a unique promotional vehicle from an old (and very rusty) flatbed VW pickup which was totally rebuilt from the ground up, modernised and re-purposed. This was fitted with a full catering kit, chilled storage and backed up with product displays. The sampling tour reached across major train stations, busy high streets, bonfire night events, university freshers’ fairs and flagship supermarkets.  From this over 100,000 samples and interactions were made with new customers, helping Glorious to establish their category dominance in the fresh soup sector.

Create a winter wonderland for your brand

It’s not just Santa’s grotto companies that need to get creative in winter. What could a winter themed wonderland look like for your brand? In a campaign for Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate, we converted a traditional British ice cream van to heat and sample hot chocolate alongside the creation of a unique giant woolly hat shaped igloo; complete with a furry purple carpet and a working internal electric fireplace! As well as looking cool (no pun intended) this allowed families to play on the event area, giving parents some free time to savour the delicious samples.

During this campaign the country experienced some heavy snow fall, but being the persistent bunch that we are, this didn’t stop us. The sampling teams managed to get the full set up to each high street event site despite having to dig the vehicle out from up to two feet of thick snow! This proved extremely popular attracting thousands of appreciative shoppers who saw us as their saviours on those bitterly cold days.  We also put a unique twist on the classic ’99’ ice cream by creating a ‘66’ which consisted of the hot chocolate sample, squirty cream, topped marshmallows and finished with a chocolate flake. From this a huge 100,000 hot samples were handed out, 60,000 new Facebook followers acquired, national media coverage generated and a 300% sales uplift achieved too.

So how could your brand benefit from a cool and carefully calculated campaign throughout the forthcoming winter period? Get your brand ready – because winter is coming!

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