Why CPG & Retail Brands Should Embrace Events

If you’re anything like me, your Facebook notifications are full of events you can attend throughout the week. From Painting with a Twist parties, to themed nights at local clubs, to special chef’s events at restaurants. A quick look at your inbox, I bet, would reveal the same thing: invitations for things to do with friends, family and brands. It seems like there’s always “Something to do.”

Yet, some of my favorite retail brands don’t truly embrace the nature of events as we know them. I receive emails about the latest sales, usually coinciding with a holiday, or for offers ‘exclusively’ for credit card holders.

These types of offers are standard, and don’t do anything in the long-run but devalue your brand. For example, I never buy anything from Banana Republic if it isn’t on sale, as much as I love the clothing, because I know if I wait a week or two, I’ll receive a substantial discount. I am sure that isn’t the aim of Banana Republic, but that’s the effect it has.

Retail and CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands need to start doing what their more innovative competitors are doing: Pairing up with like-minded brands to offer experiences and shed light on the meaning and value behind the brand. A few companies that are doing this in fantastic, innovative ways:

  • Franklin and Whitman - the local, handmade, cruelty-free skincare brand has hosted many of its own events throughout the years, including the Yoga for the Pups series. This series brings in Influencers and brand advocates from local and national markets, for a weekend yoga/brunch with like-minded partners. All of the proceeds from ticket sales go to local animal shelters. Brand alignment and priceless experience to boot!

  • City Fitness Philadelphia - With signature events like the My City Moves Campaign and Commotion, this local brand proves it’s a force to be reckoned with. Immediately when you attend a City Fitness event, you know their mission goes beyond the turn-and-burn of getting customers to sign a contract. Building community and shedding light on citywide opportunities for betterment make this brand a true Philadelphia brand.

  • Lululemon - Lululemon’s brand ambassador program is brilliant, but their in-store events, like fun runs or in-store yoga, bring brand fans into their favorite space to do exactly what their clothes are built for—sweat. I’ll bet that many of the attendees make connections that exist long after the event ends, which just builds brand affinity more. Always brilliant.

  • Glossier - Glossier sells exclusively online, and has created an unbeatable following utilizing their instagram feed, and their Into the Gloss site - “a website devoted to people sharing the beauty products they love. ITG explores the routines of inspiring women and men, from makeup and hair to health and wellness.” Tapping into the overall routines of their target audience serves as excellent market research, too, allowing them to see what products they could create that would fill a void with their consumer.

But how can you, a start-up CPG or retail brand, incorporate events into what you do?

  • Host a speaker or book signing - I’ll use an example of a flower shop. Can you host the author of a gardening book, and offer lite bites and beverages from local partners? Maybe it’s on a Friday evening, and you have a reason to bring your target consumers in prior to their biggest gardening days on the weekends.

  • Create a pop-up shop - Online brands are jumping on the pop-up shop bandwagon, for good reason: Who doesn't want to get their products into the hands of would-be consumers? Sure, shopping online has become the new norm, but getting people to truly engage with your brand is a great way to ensure longevity in your consumers’ brand affinity. If you don’t own a space, ask a local retailer if you can host a ‘pop-up shop’ within their shop. For example, if you’re a jewelry brand, putting your products in a local clothing store may attract a new consumer base, and bring your fans into the retail store for the first time. Potential win-win…as long as you do your best to ensure that the partnership is mutually-beneficial.

  • Disrupt- Everyone loves a good disruption. Years ago, it was the “flash mob,” where a crowd of people begins to inexplicably dance to the same choreography. Think about where your target customer lives and works. What’s their schedule? Are they running to the train at 4:55pm to get home to make dinner for the kids? Maybe pop up in a train station. If they’re the first ones at the gym at 5:00am, ask that gym about a partnership.

We’ve all seen the headlines about the ‘retail apocalypse.’ Avoid that fate by getting creative with your marketing—beyond discounts.