Seasonal marketing offers a certain product, sale, or promotion only at a certain time of year, as opposed to year-round. In some ways, seasonal marketing employs tactics that are similar to scarcity marketing strategies – consider, for example, Starbucks’ popular fall beverage, the pumpkin spice latte, or its “limited time only” holiday cups. However, seasonal marketing differs from scarcity marketing in that it relies on consumer attitudes and expectations around a specific time of year, rather than on a generalized fear of a shortage.
There are two main types of seasonal marketing; long-term seasonal marketing and short-term seasonal marketing. Long-term seasonal marketing involves creating a special deal or promotion related to a specific long-lasting season. One example is Dunkin’ Donuts marketing to New England during football season; it offers a yearly promotion whereby rewards members can get a free coffee the day after a New England Patriots football game if the team wins. In fact, local sports teams are popular options for long-term seasonal marketing tie-ins nationwide, because sports seasons come with an automatic audience for marketers to tap into.
Short-term seasonal marketing, on the other hand, takes a less emotional and more transactional approach to the seasonal marketing strategy, one focused strongly on increasing sales in conjunction with a one-off seasonal event. Holiday sales events, such as those that we see on “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” each year, are perhaps the best-known example of short-term seasonal marketing promotions. Many businesses routinely offer short-term sales or promotions on holiday weekends, including Memorial Day or Columbus Day, knowing that consumers have come to expect such promotions – consumers will often automatically check the company’s website expecting a short-term seasonal promotion.