Seeing Green on St. Paddy's Day

Come on, you have to laugh: a title like this from a gal named Seana Mulcahy from Boston. I just had to do it. It's funny; people call or email me, bellowing, "Happy St. Patrick's Day" like it's my birthday or something. Well believe it or not, in retail it is something to celebrate.

The National Retail Federation just released its St. Patrick's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Consumers are said to spend an estimated $3.76 billion on St. Patrick's Day. The average consumer is expected to dish out $34.89 celebrating the holiday, compared to last year's $27.94. Young adults intend to spend the most this year, with the average 18- to 24-year-old planning to dish out $40.12. Second to young adults are the 25- to 34-year-olds, who expect to spend $39.04, followed by the 35-44 year old age group at $36.56.

To no surprise, most consumers say they'll wear green (82.6%). About one third (30.5%) of consumers stated they planned to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by attending a party at their favorite restaurant or bar-- whereas another third of consumers prefer a quiet evening at home. Me, well I tend to be cautious where I venture, as it is amateur night in Boston... not to mention my demographic is getting a bit old. However, I do appreciate a good green pint. Nonetheless, I'll be at a private function that night.

It seems holiday spending on a whole is up. According to Retail Wire, consumers spent an estimated $4.96 billion on Halloween this past year, up from an estimated $3.3 billion in 2005. Some other holidays stacked up as follows:



  • Winter holidays: $457.4 billion estimated

  • Valentine's Day: $13.7 billion

  • Easter: $12.63 billion

  • Mother's Day: $13.8 billion

  • Father's Day: $9.01 billion

    So it looks as if we are seeing a trend here. But how can we as advertisers and marketers capitalize on seasonal sales -- be it brick and mortar or click and mortar? I found a cool study released in GMDC in 2006. It's a large 85-page PDF, and here are some highlights:

  • 31% of 1001 survey respondents said they plan to spend more of their disposable income on seasonal products than they were 5 years ago.

  • 35% of families with children are spending more than they did 5 years ago.

  • Seasonal events with unique merchandising opportunities now include more than holidays, and fall into four groups:

    -- Holidays: These happen annually and include Valentine's Day and the like.

    -- Multi-cultural holidays: There are 40 different ethnic holidays for Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian-Americans.

    -- Celebrations and other special annual events: Graduation, back-to-school.

    -- Weather-related events: For example, change of seasons, storms, lawn and garden.

  • Special community event, like a local sports team winning a championship, also offer a chance for merchandising, but they're more episodic.

  • The aging population (specifically boomers) should be considered for seasonal advertising (for example, to handle arthritis flare-ups in the cold weather months.)

  • Consumers said they were seeking price and value triggers when shopping for seasonal merchandise.

    There's loads more info in the report. However, at a minimum, we need to be considering these factors in our advertising copy and promotions. You don't have to be representing a retailer or etailer to notice the impact of seasonality. Think about how these events play a role in the lives of your target audiences. How can you speak to them and tie into these relevant moments of their lives? Do you think we as advertisers and marketers can capitalize on seasonality? Post to the Spin blog and share your thoughts. In the meantime, I'm sending you some good Irish cheer.

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