Every retailer in every industry knows the value of a good in-store promotion.
Over the years, enterprising brands and retailers have devised innovative tactics to attract customers that go way beyond a simple discount or BOGO offer. Here are 7 effective retail store contests and promotions you can use to differentiate your brand and increase sales.
7 Examples of Retail In-Store Promotions (and the Brands That Use Them)
1. Flash Sales
Flash sales generate urgency around your products and play on the consumer's fear of missing out (FOMO). Typically lasting less than 24 hours, flash sales offer discounts on specific products or product lines. And because the offer is only available for a limited time, customers feel compelled to buy.
Flash sales are also great for offloading excess inventory, driving sales, and increasing brand engagement.
Fendi and SKIMS
In late 2021, the Fendi X SKIMS flash sale earned $1m in its first minute. Few retailers or brands can hope to match this level of engagement. But this example perfectly illustrates the effect FOMO can have on your sales.
2. Charity Partnerships
Consumers are more socially conscious than ever. 88% expect their favorite brands to give them the tools they need to make a difference. A recent Deloitte study also found that a growing number of consumers are drawn to brands that follow environmentally friendly or ethical practices.
Charity partnerships help you tap into this today’s ethically driven shoppers. This could be through a targeted promotion or by donating a set amount to your chosen charity with every in-store purchase. Crucially, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Charity partnerships raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that people want to be a part of.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Constellation Brands ran a campaign to raise improve customer engagement, while continuing its long tradition of supporting military families. By texting the campaign keyword, customers would receive a link to the Operation Homefront website where they could donate.
3. Co-Branded Promotions
One of the best ways to tap into new markets and increase traffic is to run a co-branded retail store promotion. The right brand partnership gets people talking and creates a buzz around your products, encouraging people to buy more.
A co-branded promotion also allows you to share resources and brand equity. For example, if you partner with a trusted and respected name in your market, customers will come to associate you with those same values.
PayPal and Giant Eagle
PayPal teamed up with US supermarket chain Giant Eagle to reward in-store shoppers. During the 2021 promotion, PayPal offered $10 cashback on the first $40+ purchases Giant Eagle shoppers made with their digital wallets. This helped drive in-store sales and encouraged more people to sign up with PayPal.
Choice of partner is critical for any co-branded promotion. Good partners have related or complementary product lines or services and share the same values.
4. Meet the Maker Events
48% of millennials are more likely to buy from a brand if they know who’s behind them.
A Meet the Maker event allows customers to learn more about how their favorite products are made and engage with the people who make them. This can increase confidence in the quality and sustainability of your products. Both of which help to drive sales.
UK supermarket chain Morrisons stocks many of the biggest brands. But in 2019, it launched the Local Foodmakers Campaign to support local producers by making their products more widely available. The campaign included Meet the Maker events that allowed producers to showcase their products from source to shelf.
Following the events, Morrisons now stocks 1,000 new products from 240 local suppliers. This allows them to support the community and tap into the 60% of UK consumers who want to buy locally.
5. Pop-Up Stores
Temporary retail spaces, or pop-up stores, are becoming an important promotional strategy for brick-and-mortar stores. In a recent Science Direct survey, 80% of retailers that set up a pop-up store considered it a success. Pop-up stores can help you:
- Introduce new products
- Connect with customers
- Explore new markets
- Increase brand awareness
In 2017, Nike opened four pop-up stores in cities across North America to celebrate Air Max Day. The promotion celebrated classic and present Air Max designs and, crucially, let customers see new products in person. As a global brand, Nike’s goal wasn’t only to drive sales. It was also to boost customer engagement and loyalty.
6. Scavenger Hunts
Gamification plays an increasingly vital role in customer loyalty programs across the retail sector. From haute couture to the supermarket, retailers and brands everywhere are harnessing the power of gamification to drive engagement, activate specific behaviors, and retain customers.
A great example of in-store gamification is the scavenger or treasure hunt. The goal is simple: customers receive a list of items (products) to find within your store, typically by scanning a QR code. The winning player or team receives a prize and you get more eyes on your products.
In 2020, UK telecom giant Vodafone designed an in-store scavenger hunt to promote Vodafone X Mobile to the under 25 demographic. Vodafone tasked players to find four clues hidden around participating stores, each revealing new information about the X plan. The first person to collect all four received a brand-new iPhone X.
The promotion drew huge interest, with an average of 75 unique players per store.
7. QR Codes
QR codes aren’t only for e-commerce. You can also use them to improve your retail store promotions. For example, you can use QR codes at cash registers to provide customers with fast, contactless payments. Or you can include QR codes on price tags that let customers pay instantly with their smartphones rather than queueing up at the cash register.
Walmart was one of the first US retailers to embrace contactless payments via QR codes. The promotion was a big hit with millennials and Generation Z, who’re less likely to carry cash than older demographics.
When designing a custom QR code for your store, ensure the destination site is mobile-enabled and that it delivers the experience your customers expect.
Online is Okay, but In-Store is Indispensable
Everyone appreciates the convenience of online shopping. But for some products, nothing beats the in-store experience.
From cantaloupes to couches, worktops to wedding dresses, people like to see and experience some items in the flesh before they buy. 59% of customers prefer in-store shopping specifically because it gives them the opportunity to feel and try the product.
A well-executed retail store promotion elevates the customer journey. Whether it’s enticing new customers with an innovative in-store experience or rewarding loyal brand advocates with exclusive discounts, they help you forge a deeper connection with your customers and, ultimately, drive sales.