Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall:
Is Your Product Seasonal?
By Anthony Raissen
We live our lives around
the four seasons and a
number of special holidays. Each one brings
with it a unique need for products and
services specific to that season or holiday.
Do you have a product that has “seasonal
appeal”? Do you have a product that you
can package and promote around a seasonal theme?
You need only to walk down the aisles of your local
stores to see just how creative and promotion-driven
manufacturers, as well as retailers, have become in an
ever-increasing effort to capitalize on the seasonality
and or calendar event promotions of products.
Do you walk down the aisle and see this as an opportunity for your product, or do you get jaded at how
“commercial” the system has become? Hopefully you
can see through the red and green of the Christmas
decorations, or pink and white of the Valentine’s Day
hearts. These colors all add up to tons of green!
I was recently approached by a prospective client
who has a great “beach product.” The client wanted me
to help him create a marketing and advertising plan for
the summer of 2008. At first I thought he was joking,
but soon realized that what we often take for granted
— our knowledge of how retailers plan and think — is
not even considered by most entrepreneurs or manufacturers. The problem is that retailers typically review
“beach items” in the fall for the following year.
Still, once your product gets on schedule, one great
advantage that you have with a seasonal products is
that retailers like seasonal promotions and you have
the ability to use great promotional vehicles like floor
stands, power wings, pallet promotions, displays, etc.
These promotional vehicles
help you create extra hype
around your product, which
in turn leads to extra sales.
One thing you do need to
consider with seasonal products is that at the end of the
season the retailer will return
the unsold merchandise to
you. You need to plan for this return at
the operational level, as well as at the
Many of the points addressed in the
box below apply whether or not you
have a seasonal product. The issue is
that while you may be waiting to perfect your product, there is a lot you can
do to give yourself the ability to go to
market as soon as the product is ready,
rather than waiting a year before realizing your dream. ■
Here are a few steps you, as an entrepreneur, can take to get ahead
of the curve and ensure you don’t have to miss an entire year before taking your product to retail:
» Familiarize yourself with trade shows and retailer schedules as
early as possible — there is no excuse for missing an important
show or deadline.
» Create your marketing and advertising plans well ahead of any
such shows or retail presentations — the first question you will
be asked is, “What are your marketing and advertising plans and
» Create mock-ups and prototypes of products, as well as packaging
and displays, even if you are not 100-percent sure of what the final
product and packaging will look like. In many cases, a prototype
and mock-up packaging will be sufficient to get a retailer excited
enough with your product to give you the time to get to final product
» Have a sales force and broker network in place ahead of time. This
will let you hit the ground running when you are ready to proceed.
Apart from being proactive, this gives the retailer a sense of comfort that you know what you are doing and are prepared and able to
move forward when the time is right.
» Give the company, if you are working with a contract manufacturer,
a heads up as to when you will need your product. Manufacturers
need to order raw materials and allocate production time and staffing ahead of time. Giving them advance notice of when you anticipate going into production will ensure that your products are on the
correct production schedule.
» Get set up with UPC numbers (barcodes). This is not a very time
intensive process, however you will need UPC numbers on your retail
packaging and shipping cartons. The application is available
online and the Web site is user friendly. For more info go to
» Take care of legal issues, such as sales permits and business