Courtesy of eTour Singapore
Festive holidays have always brought much cheer to those in the retail and service businesses, especially seasonal ones like Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa. Considered peak periods for those in the consumer and lifestyle industries, festive holidays are peppered with numerous promotions and special deals by shops in order to trigger purchases both impromptu and planned.
Many retail outlets are dressed to the nines during these occasions, decked in splendid eye-catching and attention-grabbing hues.
For small businesses, trying to shout louder and harder the big boys during such festive periods is probably a suicidal mission in marketing. An old mom-and-pop shop located in a sleepy HDB estate just doesn’t have the funds to outblast the biggest boys in the business.
Are there ways then for small retail and service outlets to survive (and thrive) the festive blitzkrieg?
First, focus on providing personalised attention. Caring for your customers is easier for smaller outlets where the volume of foot traffic is less massive than a Carre Four or NTUC Fairprice hypermarket. For example, if you know that a particular customer has a thing for abalones, try to interest her in the latest range from Mexico or Australia. Don’t hesitate to give customers a call if you came across a dress, shirt or outfit that they may find intriguing, especially if it suits their body shape just right!
Next, look at nicking that nice little niche. Offering a bewildering range of merchandise won’t do when you have limited shop space. Instead, think about providing a unique value proposition that the big boys can’t do as well. For example, a neighbourhood hair salon could offer a unique “Tiger Year” hair cut, while a convenience store could stock up on favourite heritage brands of food products that grandmothers and aunties favour.
One can also look at guerrilla marketing techniques to generate attention. Too many shops focus on price as their main selling point, failing to enchant and amuse their customers in the process. Do something out of the ordinary, like giving out candies to kids when they least expect it – this just happened today to my family today when a hokkien noodle seller gave my 6 year old son two chocolate candies and wished him “Happy New Year”. Warming a parent’s heart is a far better marketing technique than any amount of advertising.
Finally, one should look at building customer loyalty and longevity when looking at providing festive “extras”. Give your most valuable customers reason to continue shopping at your place by giving them nice little holiday surprises now and then – an extra neck massage to go with a hair cut, a small packet of Indian curry spices when Deepavali is around the corner, or a few red packets just for regulars.
Seek to surprise and delight your customers with the little things that matter – ones that only a neighbourhood shop can achieve – and ride that festive wave!