How To Do Seasonal Merchandising Right: Micro-Trends

Ever feel like the retail world is spinning faster than a kid hyped up on candy? You’re not alone. Keeping pace with customer preferences every season can be a wild ride. And that’s not counting annual events. One minute everyone’s obsessed with chunky sneakers, the next it’s all about comfy slippers (thanks, pandemic!).

But hey, there’s a method to this retail madness.

Promotional merchandizing

Seasonal Merch!

Think about it. Nobody wants bulky winter coats in July, and nobody’s reaching for swimsuits in December (well, maybe in Florida!). Understanding how seasons influence what people buy is the first step to maximizing your profits.

Here’s the thing: trends move faster than ever these days. In this blog, we’re not just talking about the shift from skinny jeans to mom jeans (although, R.I.P. skinny jeans, we hardly knew ye). We’re talking about micro-trends, short-lived bursts of popularity that can explode – and fizzle out – in a matter of weeks.

Remember that fidget spinner craze a few years back? Yeah, exactly.

But here’s the good news: if you’re quick on your feet and have a keen eye for what’s hot, you can capitalize on micro-trends to boost your profits. All you need to do is snag a bunch of merchandise that perfectly captures a fleeting trend, sell it out fast, and move on to the next big thing.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Summer screams for those breezy tank tops with inspirational quotes. You know, the ones that appeal to customers who want to get their wise inner beach bum out.

As for Fall, well it’s cozy scarves and beanies.

The holidays?  Forget about it – that’s a whole other merchandising beast that involves the likes of ugly Christmas sweaters and reindeer socks.

This seasonal merch thing sounds like a sweet deal now, huh? But how are you supposed to jump on these micro trends with racking up a big pile of outdated inventory?

Woah, you’re moving a bit too fast there.

First, you need some scrutiny; particularly on…

…the 4 Ps of Merchandising

  • Promotion
  • Pricing
  • Placement
  • Product

Notice that the “Product” came last. These factors aren’t the only important pieces of the puzzle, but scrutinizing them can give your seasonal merchandising strategy an edge.

Seasonal merchandizing
photo credit: Aziel Xochihua / Pexels

The idea is to implement great practices around these 4 factors to not increase sales but also improve customer retention and stock control.

1. Determine how you’re going to promote the merch

There are a lot of ways to do this, with the most obvious one being good old advertising. You need some hype around the merch way before the season or event. The best bet is to have in-store promotions complementing your ad campaigns. This could be done with even simple signages and in-store promotional displays.

2. Understand the market to match prices

In an article for Total Retail by Jim Malone, there is a line about not assuming shoppers to take up on a store’s offer. But sweetening the pot might encourage them more. To do that, you need to be aware of the market fluctuations and the demand of such products. For instance, you can increase prices at the beginning of the season or during peak season time. Ever noticed easter eggs going up in price mid season?

As the season comes to an end, you can cut the pricing and offer incentives to your customers. Don’t reduce it too much if you don’t want losses to add up. The goal here is to be competitive with the pricing or your merch won’t stay relevant for long no matter what you do.

3. Find the right spot in your store to showcase the merch

Product placement is just underrated. If you don’t use the floor space (or shelf space) effectively, your merch just won’t sell like you expect it to. Even if they are products that your customers want. Your merch should get the maximum visibility in your store, and that calls for some placement optimizations. “Impulse purchases” must not be underestimated. Presenting your merch in high-traffic areas increases the likelihood of impulse purchases.

Some stores often showcase products that complement their seasonal merch along with the merch. This cross-merchandising technique may not always work, and many stores overdo it. The goal here is to make it convenient for your customers to easily spot the seasonal merch, find products that go well with it, and see the promotional offers as they browse the merch.

4. Stock up products that sell more

Sell products that, well, sell. How’s that sound? Okay, so the idea is to stock products that will move off the shelves. To do this, you need to look into the past i.e. your historical sales data. Just to get an idea of the products that sold well at a specific time last year.

Imagine your store sells “Back To School” supplies during the season. You are aware that traditional school bags sell. Here, you can also look into regional trends just to check if fashion school bags appeal to the customers. If they do, you can stock up on those bags as well. You can’t expect customers to buy air conditioners in winter.

Man wearing baseball cap

Micro trends

Once you’ve factored in the Ps, you can make the dive into micro-trends. These are accelerated trends that just come and go super fast. There was one that picked up momentum last year. Baseball caps with the logos of luxury car brands. Fashion stores in the USA immediately started customizing wholesale baseball caps. Some of them made it. But it was a micro trend after all, and ran out of gas pretty soon though baseball caps once again got popular.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can attempt to create a micro trend yourself.

Got a hunch that flamingos are going to be the next big thing?  Slap some flamingo flair on t-shirts or caps!

Have any ideas that can tie into an upcoming local music festival? Design limited-edition festival-themed caps!

Even if you come up with an original merch concept or choose to capitalize on an existing micro trend, know that a little preparation, early promotions, optimized placements, and a stock of the right products can go a long way. Micro trends can be profit powerhouses if you present them to your customers the right way. At the very least, they can make for good impulse buys.

If you’re feeling extra bold for the upcoming season, do a test run with custom caps after you’re done with the market research. Try using versatile products like  caps to transform your store from a stagnant backwater into a trendsetting hub.  So, ditch the fear of being left behind, and start thinking seasonally!  Your customers (and your bank account) will thank you for it.