There is no official retail marketing calendar that all retailers are intended to use. There are holidays and other important dates that carry through most retail calendars, but typically every retail calendar will vary slightly based on each business’s specific needs and location.
There are countless retail marketing calendars, with nearly every retailer out there using one slightly different depending on the specific holidays, events, seasons, and other marketing initiatives they want to highlight.
Grocers should seek to customize their retail marketing calendar with relevant initiatives both to their customers and their brand values.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of a retail calendar, its benefits for enterprise grocers, important dates specific to grocers, and inspiring ideas for successful promotional campaigns.
Understanding the Retail Promo Calendar
A retail promo calendar is a schedule that outlines the promotional activities and campaigns planned by enterprise grocers throughout the year.
It serves as a strategic roadmap, guiding grocers on when and how to launch special promotions tied to specific dates, events, and seasons.
The calendar typically encompasses both online and offline channels, including in-store promotions, digital marketing campaigns, social media initiatives, and more.
The Benefits of a Retail Promo Calendar
Enhanced Customer Engagement:
By aligning promotional activities with important dates and events, grocers can create a sense of anticipation and excitement among customers. It encourages them to actively participate and interact with the brand.
Increased Sales and Revenue:
Well-executed promotions can drive traffic to the store or website, resulting in higher sales. By strategically planning promotions during slower periods, grocers can boost revenue and even out sales throughout the year.
Improved Brand Loyalty:
Brands are understanding the importance of communicating their values with customers, and this includes grocery brands. Grocers can select the special dates that best align to their core mission and brand values, and engage their customers in a personalized way by matching special promos with customer profiles. By consistently offering attractive deals and discounts on special dates, grocers strengthen their relationship with customers, building trust and loyalty over time.
A retail calendar allows grocers to stay ahead of the competition by taking advantage of unique opportunities and capitalizing on emerging trends and customer preferences.
Stakeholders in Charge of Promotions
The responsibility for managing retail promotions often falls on a dedicated marketing team within an enterprise grocer.
This team typically consists of marketing managers, campaign strategists, creative designers, and digital marketing specialists.
They collaborate closely with other departments, including merchandising, sales, and operations, to ensure the seamless execution of the promotional campaigns.
Important Dates for Grocers in the Retail Calendar
Events such as back-to-school, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summer vacations present excellent opportunities for grocers to create promotions centered around specific seasonal products or customer needs.
To prepare for peak seasons, following this timeline will keep you organized and prepared:
- 12 months in advance: Analyze your previous peak seasons—maybe it’s back-to-school, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or even the entire summer. Take a look at all of your sales and foot traffic data for the season in question. Look at what items or services were the most popular, take note of any stockouts, and consult your staff for insights into items customers were wanting and whether they felt like there were enough employees for the traffic.
- 6–8 months in advance: Order products. With data from your analysis, you will have a good grasp of quantities and types of products that customers look for during peak seasons. You will want to order these products at least six months in advance to ensure they arrive in time for the uptick in traffic.
- 1 month in advance: Nail down hours and staffing. You will likely need some additional hands on deck for your peak seasons. To ensure that your employees are prepared, you should release their peak season schedule at least one month in advance.
- 1 week in advance: Begin outreach marketing. You know that customers are itching to shop at your store at the time in question, so capitalize on this buying potential with an outreach marketing campaign. Show off your new products, offer a deal, and get customers excited to visit your store.
Major holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Halloween are prime occasions for grocers to design special promotions, offer themed products, or create engaging experiences for customers.
For most retailers, holidays are going to be a large focus of marketing initiatives. But, how do you prepare for holiday marketing initiatives? How do you ensure you have all the decor and products you need in time? And, when is it appropriate to start marketing around the different holidays?
The following timeline will help you stay organized and ready:
- 12 months in advance: Commence by analyzing your previous peak seasons. Whether it’s back-to-school, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or the entire summer, delve into your sales and foot traffic data for the corresponding season. Identify the most popular items or services, note any instances of stockouts, and seek insights from your staff regarding customer preferences and adequacy of employees to handle the traffic.
- 6–8 months in advance: Place orders for products. Armed with insights from your analysis, you will have a solid understanding of the quantities and types of products that customers seek during peak seasons. Ensure you order these products at least six months in advance to allow sufficient time for them to arrive before the surge in traffic.
- 1 month in advance: Finalize hours and staffing. Given the likelihood of requiring additional hands on deck during peak seasons, it is crucial to establish and communicate the peak season schedule to your employees at least one month in advance. This enables them to prepare and ensures a well-staffed operation.
- 1 week in advance: Initiate outreach marketing. Leverage the anticipated customer enthusiasm during the upcoming season by launching an outreach marketing campaign. Showcase your new products, offer enticing deals, and generate excitement among customers, motivating them to visit your store.
Grocers can tap into the local community’s events and celebrations, such as food festivals, sports tournaments, or cultural gatherings.
These events provide grocers with the chance to collaborate with local organizations, showcase regional products, and attract customers.
To ensure your events are well-prepared and successful, follow the timelines below:
- 1–2 months in advance: Initiate in-store marketing. Depending on the scale of your event, start displaying in-store flyers and promotional materials one to two months prior to the event. This allows ample time for customers to become aware of the upcoming event and plan accordingly.
- 1 month in advance: Confirm hours and staffing. Additional assistance may be required to run your events smoothly. To ensure adequate staffing and allow for necessary adjustments, release the event day(s) schedule to your employees at least one month in advance.
- 1 week to 1 day in advance: Commence outreach marketing. Engage with your customers through effective communication channels such as text messages and/or emails, notifying them about the event as it approaches. This timely outreach ensures that your customers are well-informed and excited about attending.
Health and Wellness Awareness:
Promotions linked to health-conscious trends, such as New Year resolutions, World Health Day, or local health fairs, can highlight a grocer’s commitment to supporting customers’ well-being while promoting relevant products and services.
Seasonality in the Retail Calendar
The 4-5-4 Retail Calendar is a special calendar used by retailers that divides the year into 4 & 5-weeks months in order to make it easier to plan and compare sales to previous year on a like for like basis.
Why Is the 4-5-4 Retail Calendar used in retail?
The retail calendar is intended to keep the same number of weekends (Saturdays & Sundays) in every month, because weekends play a big role in sales. This ensures that sales can be planned year over year on the same basis and makes the retail budgeting process easier and the sales reporting comparable.
When retailers budget for the coming year, they take the previous year as a base and factor in any growth (or lack of) in those sales figures – and then establish the new budget from there. If they maintain a calendar that has the same number of weekends there will be no need to shift the dates while budgeting.
Instead these retailers use a normal monthly calendar and plot their marketing events in every month and budget and report their sales on a monthly basis that starts and ends with the start and end of the month.
Planning promotions & marketing
The 4-5-4 calendar is also useful in conjunction with your retail marketing calendar for planning sales promotions or marketing campaigns. Since the 4-5-4 calendar allows for comparing like days (Mondays with Mondays, for instance), you can gain insights about which days of the week perform best for particular promotions—thus informing future campaign planning.
Plus, by better understanding the sales trends of specific periods (such as certain weeks, months, or quarters), you can schedule promotions to boost sales during historically slower times. Similarly, you can capitalize on traditionally busy times by planning major promotions or campaigns during periods.
Examples of Successful Promotions
Recipe and meal planning campaigns:
Grocers can create monthly campaigns that revolve around specific themes, such as “Healthy Eating Month” or “Grilling Season.”
They can offer recipe suggestions, meal planning tips, and discounts on related products, driving customers to explore new options and make purchases.
Loyalty programs and exclusive offers:
Enterprise grocers can reward loyal customers by offering exclusive discounts, early access to sales, or personalized recommendations based on their shopping history.
This not only promotes customer retention but also encourages repeat purchases.
By partnering with local charities or organizations, grocers can launch promotions that support social causes. For example, a grocer could donate a portion of sales during a specific period to a local food bank, raising awareness while encouraging customers to shop with a purpose.
Social media initiatives:
Leveraging the power of social media and email marketing, grocers can offer exclusive online promotions, conduct contests, or share engaging content to drive traffic to their online platforms and encourage customer engagement.
Pick the holidays and celebrations you can use to your advantage. Planning, preparations and correct timing go a long way. The best part: it all works even better when you pair it with suitable items that sellers look for at that time of the year.
By strategically planning and executing promotions tied to important dates throughout the year, grocers can create memorable experiences for their customers and gain a competitive advantage.
With a dedicated marketing team leading the way, they can unlock the true potential of a retail promo calendar and chart a successful course in the ever-evolving retail industry.
If you’re a retailer or CPG company and want to harness the power of customer data to grow revenue, then get in touch with us here – we’ll be happy to show you more about Loyal Guru’s retail-specific loyalty and personalization platform.