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Sticky Branding: Andrew Witkin

Effective Marketing Starts with Staying Ahead of the Seasons

You can tap into seasonal trends without breaking the bank.

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FOR MORE THAN a century, New York’s trendiest department stores have fiercely competed by creating elaborate window displays that showcase their seasonal collections. These street-level exhibits were once so popular that shoppers would literally wait overnight in anticipation of the displays being revealed, and they received national media coverage. In the process, window dressers became celebrities in their own right, and luminaries such as Salvador Dalí and Jasper Johns were hired to create displays to add glitz and star power. In 1961, Andy Warhol’s over-the-top display at Bonwit Teller garnered massive press attention and launched him to global fame.

Seasonal Marketing Today

So, what does this all look like in an era where department stores are no longer the dominant trendsetters and ecommerce rules the roost? As it turns out, while the retail landscape has changed over the last several decades, effectively showcasing seasonal merchandise in a way that resonates with consumers still matters. Companies need to find ways to leverage design based on seasonal trends to appeal to shoppers. This doesn’t need to be as elaborate as a Bloomingdale’s window display. Simply changing graphics in stores or even on product packages to reflect the time of year can be highly effective. Many brands begin to roll out Christmas-themed merchandise in November, and it’s not uncommon to see spring-themed products beginning in March.

A great example of this can be found in Washington, D.C., which is famous for its Japanese cherry blossoms. The anticipation leading up to the first flowers last for nearly a month (there are even live webcams trained on the trees’ branches), and thousands of local merchants work this into their spring branding. It’s a pretty good bet that if you fly into D.C., the airport gift shop will have a full range of cherry blossom shirts, keychains, and other souvenirs from February through May.

This may sound expensive and difficult to execute, but the reality is that merchants can customize their displays and packaging without having to break the bank or spend six months preparing. Stickers, signs, and decals are easy to design and get onto shelves in literally a few days. In the past, it may have taken months to do this, but advances in digital design tools and fast printing technologies have dramatically cut the cycle from months to days. This not only gives brands incredible flexibility, but it also cuts costs because they don’t have to carry excess inventory. After all, no one wants a warehouse full of Christmas designs in September.

One of the best ways for savvy merchants to stay ahead of seasonal trends is with sticker rolls and custom die-cut labels that not only tap into relevant design elements (think snowflakes for winter or beach-themed images for summer) but allow them to create unique identities and experiment. These can be used as a fast and affordable way to integrate new themes, colors, and messaging into packaging, from shipping labels to bags and boxes. Physical marketing like postcards, mailers, and thank you notes equipped with coupon codes are a great way to make a statement while measuring campaign metrics. Whether brands want to make slight modifications or test an overhaul, on-theme customization can differentiate brands and create a more memorable visual presence and customer experience.

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Andrew Witkin is the founder and CEO of StickerYou, a global ecommerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products that empowers consumers and businesses to create high-quality materials for personal expression, marketing, and packaging.

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