Sanet Yelland
Sanet Yelland

The value of the occasion for customer connections

by Sanet Yelland. Are retailers and brands maximising promotional opportunities on special holidays and commemorative days?

by Sanet Yelland. Special holidays and commemorative days are an opportunity for retailers to connect at a visceral, emotional level with consumers. Are you maximising your promotional opportunities?

Easter, for example, provides a valuable retailer occasion for a couple of reasons. The religious holiday, coupled with public holidays; and days for families to spend quality time together, providing a good opportunity for retailers to enjoy occasion-led consumption efforts and drive footfall to stores in key categories shopped. Post-Covid lockdowns, more retailers seem to be embracing Easter festivities: “Finally, retailers have a lockdown-free holiday to celebrate after two years, and are bouncing into Easter with massive promotions, challenges and prizes.”

Of course, the Easter long weekend is not just about chocolate bunnies, hunts and traditional category moments. but rather an opportunity for retailers to connect with their consumers and shoppers on an emotional level, tapping into lifestyle needs and emotional sentiments over the period. Strong differentiation can be sought over just product expectations in this period by connecting shopper mindsets, missions and experiences that reward the occasion.

Owning the occasion

Shoppers have become increasingly savvy about deals and promotions. They actively seek a better shopping reward for buying in bulk and added basket value. Too often, these expectations are not met, and consumers feel value has not met their expectations for better deals. Quite a few shoppers complained about the escalating costs of Easter eggs against benchmarked prices in their minds and price perception realities; and retailers aimed to push value by communicating with shoppers the best value over the period.

Inspire the occasion

To help shoppers make the most of an occasion, consider how basket solutions with an experience can bring experiential shopper value to the time with families. Products can play a meaningful role. Whilst not a new example, IKEA leveraged great insights on DIY bunny chocolate kits, and sought to give shoppers a kit with more memorable moments and connections with loved ones. This resonated emotionally with shoppers, and it also justified a price premium for the product due to the experience it came with. Further, new models and creations under the DIY build it and eat it concept extended to new animals and shapes. At the heart of all these kits is the IKEA principle of easy assembly, fun and play and experiential moments to enjoy over the period.

Create experiential synergy

Whilst retailers aimed to drive incremental footfall into the stores pre-Easter, during and post (we all know the last-minute shoppers on Easter morning picking up some forgotten items); the value of online and offline efforts for integrated communications is valuable for brand building and connected shopper experiences.

A great example of a campaign experience that connects the mystery of hiding your egg anywhere in the world and sharing on social to participate, is Cadbury’s with their Global Easter Egg Hunt. The concept was simple; “Easter has always been synonymous with the ‘hunt’ for eggs, but as a brand centred around generosity, we wanted to change this and make Cadbury a part of the thoughtful family rituals and traditions by focusing on the ‘hide’, thereby injecting the spirit of generosity and the true meaning of Easter back into the occasion.

Destination and category missions

Woolworths created a destination mindset for shoppers over the Easter period by creating a specific home for all things Easter, in its Welcome to “Hopville”. It centred all the products relevant to the occasion and shopper mindset. The power of this is simple – it intended to become the go-to destination for Easter products, experiences, innovations and trials of products that would normally not be seen outside of the occasion.

Driving value and experience simultaneously

Given the time of the year and the freedom to be outdoors (as a key occasion post strict Covid-19 lockdown restrictions), experiential outdoor events played a big role in driving family connectivity and sharing experiences. Connecting your brand to these sharable moments and experiences can also differentiate consumers’ experiences with your brands.

Product-centricity for Easter

Often, brands are unsure how to capitalise on an occasion when the product is not necessarily top-of-mind for the occasion, be it consumption moments or relevance. A great example of finding these relevant connections was seen in the Häagen Dazs campaign; the Easter bunny didn’t just hide chocolate eggs; he also brought tasty ice-cream treats – specifically from Häagen-Dazs and home delivery service, GoPuff, which delivered free tubs of gelato to its customers throughout the weekend when they used the ’dontholdback’ coupon code. This is a great example of being top-of-mind over the occasion and connecting omnichannel delivery experiences with shopper rewards.

Four key occasion learnings

Manage cost expectations in shoppers’ minds for value and price trade-offs. Price and expected legacy value should be coupled with value-adds or new experiences to justify price premiums.

  1. Newcomers to the category can excite and delight when the right sentiment, offer and shopper experience are made clear.
  2. Place value in a brand to further the communication message and stand out in the busy period.
  3. Leverage the omnichannel experience to fully reward the shopper across multiple channels and drive integrated messaging for your brand.
  4. Product innovations can be trialled and connected to a rewarding shopper experience.


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Sanet Yelland is the CEO and founder of Streamline Advertising, a full service agency. She has worked across the industry for 30 years, on clients within financial services, wholesale, retail, FMCG and government sectors on notable brands, including Massmart, Dis-chem, SAA, City of Johannesburg, Nedbank, Absa Bank, and Pick ‘n Pay (Score Supermarkets and RiteValue brands). Yelland started the Young Community Shapers initiative in 2000. This project acknowledges and celebrates the achievements of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing funding, bursaries, and mentorship.


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