Fourth of July continues to be one of the biggest summer holidays in the United States, and one that many consumers celebrate.
While Independence Day typically involves backyard barbecues, fireworks, and outdoor gatherings, this year is a little different.
Yes, a lot of people are itching to go outside and spend time with others, but with states and cities enforcing social distancing, we can expect gatherings to be more subdued than usual.
If you’re looking to drive sales around the 4th of July, it’s important to adapt your strategy to the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s look at the way you can do just that.
1. Take note of social distancing rules in your area
To figure out the right Independence Day ideas to run with, you first need to know what you are (and aren’t) allowed to do in your store and community in general.
How many people can you have in your store at any given time? What activities are allowed and prohibited in your area? Which public or community facilities are open?
The answers to these questions will help you lay the groundwork for your 4th of July campaigns, and ensure that you carry out your initiatives in a safe and effective way.
So, visit your state and city’s website to view exactly what you can and can’t do, then cook up your 4th of July marketing ideas from there.
2. Continue to stock 4th of July staples
Now let’s talk about your 4th of July inventory. Traditionally, Americans celebrate Independence Day by attending gatherings like cookouts and parades. According to the NRF’s 2019 4th of July survey, consumer intended to celebrate by:
- Having a BBQ/Picnic/Cookout
- Seeing fireworks or taking part in a community celebration
- Going to a parade
- Going on vacation
- Will not celebrate
The NRF hasn’t released its 2020 findings yet, but with recent events, we can be sure that fewer people are going to participate in community events, parades, or go on vacation.
More likely, Americans will have smaller gatherings at home and celebrate by having a backyard BBQ or cookout. If beaches or parks are open in your area, then people may opt to celebrate there.
Whatever the case, 4th of July food staples should still be in demand this year, so if you’re a food and beverage retailer, then be sure to stock up on BBQ or picnic food and supplies.
The demand for items with the American flag, 4th of July decorations, and Independence Day apparel will also increase, so have these in your store and website.
And remember that presentation is everything. Spend time creating attractive displays. With the right designs, you make everyday or “ordinary” items pop! Once you have your displays, position them in high-traffic areas of your store and take photos that you can upload on your website and social media.
You could also use the photos as collateral for your 4th of July marketing campaigns.
Check out the following collection from Celina Marie Craft Studio, a business that creates handmade party and home decorations:
3. …but also consider products that people can use at home or on their own
This year, some consumers may opt-out of large gatherings and celebrate on their own or with a small group of people. If this is a trend that you see in your market or location, you should adapt accordingly.
Matthew Burke, the editorial director at CompleteGuidetoArchery.com says that 4th of July is usually one of their biggest marketing pushes.
“Archers (and particularly bowhunters) get *really* excited about July 4th, and we usually go big and go patriotic with our archery gear,” explains Matthew. “Usually we don’t have to try so hard, but people are worried this year — many of our customers, especially our older archers, are still very wary of getting together with friends at the archery range for fear of COVID-19.”
To address this, Matthew recommends that retailers “take a good look at your product line and market items that your customers can use on their own. While many may congregate the way they’ve done in years past, many customers — particularly older ones — may still be very concerned, and you need to market a product that meets their concerns.”
“For us, the product we’ve been pushing has been home archery kits. We usually market a lot of gear that people can use at an archery range with their friends, but this year, we’re marketing more gear that you can use at home, like archery targets you can set up in the backyard. Because people may be less likely to meet with friends — and ranges may still be closed! — we’re trying to meet peoples’ needs by allowing them to do archery on their own.”
Do something similar in your business. If you usually sell items that people can use outdoors or at large gatherings you may want to mix things up by also promoting products that your customers can enjoy at home or with just a couple of people.
4. Find existing merchandise that you can reposition for Independence Day
You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to assortment planning for Independence Day. In some cases, you can take something that’s already in your catalog and put a 4th of July spin to it.
That’s what the tea subscription service Sips by did in 2019. To celebrate Independence Day, the company put the spotlight on one of its tea products that are made in the USA. Sips by sent a dedicated email and even created a video telling the product’s story.
This Independence Day, see if you can do what Sips by did. Are there any products in your store that you can promote to your patriotic customers? Do you have items that were made in the USA? Put those products front and center so people know about them and leverage them in your 4th of July marketing.
5. Get your email ducks in a row
Email is always a good channel when it comes to driving awareness to certain shopping events, and Independence Day is no different. If you’re doing anything special for the 4th of July, see to it that your subscribers know about your initiatives by sending a series of emails highlighting the products or promotions that you have.
A sample cadence could be something along the lines of:
- Introduce your 4th of July marketing campaign (2-3 weeks out)
- Follow up on your first email (1-2 weeks out)
- “Last chance” email (4th of July week)
The apparel retailer Untuckit did just that in 2019. To celebrate the 4th of July, Untuckit ran a 25% sale on select items. The company sent an email about a week before Independence Day to inform customers about the offer, and then sent another message on the 7th of July (the last day of the sale) to let people know that they only have a few hours left before the sale goes away.
Have you checked out Marsello? It’s a loyalty and marketing automation tool that makes it easy to create personalized campaigns. With Marsello, you can send targeted email flows based on each customer’s behavior, purchase history, and brand interactions, so messages will resonate more with shoppers.Learn More
6. Run a 4th of July social media marketing campaign
Posting 4th of July content on social media is a given, and most brands are already planning their Independence Day posts for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
That’s all well and good, but if you’d like to spice things up a bit, why not run a giveaway and make your social media initiatives more fun?
“Social media contests can be a fun way of expanding your store’s online audience and customer base. The sky’s the limit when designing a social media campaign, as there are so many different ways to go about it,” says Meaghan Brophy, a retail analyst at Fit Small Business.
“One popular method is asking customers to post pictures during beach days or backyard BBQs where they are using your products.”
As an example, Meaghan points to the grocery chain Stew Leonards. According to her, the company “has been holding a successful Bags Around the World Campaign since before social media. Customers take photos with their branded Stew Leonard’s grocery bags when they travel, bring the photo to Stew’s customer service desk, and receive a $3 store gift certificate. The photos are then shared on Facebook and within the grocery store.”
7. Run a 4th of July promotion
Independence Day promotions are pretty common, and for good reason: they work. If it makes sense for your business, run a promotional campaign to drive awareness and sales for the 4th of July.
From discounts and BOGO offers to freebies and bonus loyalty points, you have a ton of options when it comes to what offers to create. You just have to be smart about your promotions to ensure that your profits don’t take a huge hit.
You can, for example, implement spending thresholds where people can redeem an offer if they purchase above a particular dollar amount or if they buy a certain number of items.
Be sure to go through your sales and inventory reports to determine which products should be put on sale and how big of a discount to offer.
If you already have some tried-and-tested promos in your store, see if you can repurpose them for Independence Day.
KiwiCo, a site that promotes STEM and STEAM products for kids, did just that last year.
KiwiCo took one of their popular promotions — 50% off your first box — and repurposed it for Independence Day by attaching an easy to remember 4th of July promo code (“FLAG”). It was the exact same offer that KiwiCo has promoted previously, but they added a seasonal twist to make it more relevant.
Need pointers and examples of the kinds of coupons and offers to run in your store? Our guide on retail sales promotions has you covered!
8. Team up with another business
You don’t have to go about your 4th of July initiatives alone. Why not find a non-competing business and come up with an initiative together? You can, for example, do a joint giveaway that encourages people to follow both your brands on social media.
Or you could give your customers a treat by giving them an exclusive discount at another business.
Planet Fitness (PF) did just that last year when it teamed up with FruitBouqets.com. Planet Fitness members got an exclusive promo code for 20% simply by being a gym member. All they had to do what use PF’s special code at checkout to redeem the offer.
Fourth of July may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on this all-important American holiday. Look at your data, identify the right products to sell, and come up with creative ways to market them.
In doing so, you’ll attract relevant traffic, customers, and sales.
Good luck and Happy 4th!
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.