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Seasons on the Web
by Brian Chmielewski
Are there seasons on the Web? If you market on the Web, can bet your job
there are! And only 90 days remain in most fruitful of those seasons, the
Christmas celebration. Based on standard operating hours, roughly 900
hours of shopping time is available, unless you're patronizing Internet vendors,
in which case, you gain another 1200 hours. From the average consumer
standpoint, spending this legion of hours in quest of the ideal gifts
should induce some deranged rationalizing behavior, but from the sales and
marketing perspective, it signifies a time to move beyond conceptual
stages and into strategic development and implementation of seasonal
Why Pay Attention to Cycles?
However you prefer to term this festive holiday, one central theme remains
clear - seasonal concerns pervade nearly every product category. For many
businesses, the economic commotion provoked during the fourth business
quarter represents their financial bedrock. In fact, fourth quarter 1997
witnessed US $ 335 million in e-commerce revenues according to the
Advertising Bureau. In opposition to linear theories of promotion, the
cyclical or seasonal model provides new challenges and requires insight
for activities such as forecasting and new product introductions.
Effectively managing seasonal campaigns depends on being able to gauge
accurately the effectiveness of advertising spending, promotions, pricing
and many other possible factors. Your analytical capabilities provide keen
recommendations on choices you must make to optimize your business - price
levels, promotion methods, media spending, product portfolio mix, retail
category optimization and other areas where statistical techniques can
quantify likely outcomes or evaluate historical effectiveness of
In nearly every environment, one interval in time is influenced by past
intervals - every action becomes responsible for consequent actions. In
financial markets, points on the yield curve influence each other. In
commerce, the specific time of year and competitive pricing can directly
effect demand. In marketing, the economic landscape and timeliness of
promotions effect sales. Upon examination of the interactions between
the members of a marketing production channel when the demand faced by the
retailer is seasonal, manufacturers can determine production rates and
structure at which it will sell the product to the retailer. Likewise,
retailers can decide the order quantities and pricing to sell the product
to the customer based on their behavior.
Predominant retail measurement instruments in the offline world include
product purchase scanning, retail audit services and accounting level
reporting. Scanning of product codes and store visits has become an
standard as a result of the work of professional auditors, ACNielsen.
statistical data offers complete portfolio representation of sample and
census information across many product industries, such as, the food,
household, health and beauty, durables, confectionery and beverage
Since the online world is, by nature, automated, tracking inventory levels
and incidence of purchases - thus customer activity - can be more readily
documented and available for historical analysis. With proper accounting,
customer tracking software and inventory controls implemented, your
business can cipher trends and make shrewd promotional decisions. Maybe
you'll take advantage of those annual peak periods of activity that
a willingness of your target audience to demand your product by adding
incentive of additional purchases of similar or identical products.
your agenda is to tackle the lulls in your business cycle with creative
sales and awareness promotions.
Applying and monitoring retail measurement services can help to gauge
product penetration, overall product performance, distribution, promotion
effectiveness, and price sensitivity. Whether the goal is long-term
strategic planning or tactical decision-making, possessing thorough
seasonal data grants you the means to measure and track those details
that help you manage your business. Research services support
decision-making at each stage of product marketing - from the
of market opportunities, the development of product concepts and product
positioning through to sales forecasting, advertising testing and
Time series analysis and forecasting
Planned promotions are more fruitful. With research and outline in hand,
marketing, sales and operations teams perform according to realistic
guidelines, allowing them to thrive. Establishing a seasonal campaign may
appear simple - acknowledge your business cycle and then act when a period
in that cycle corresponds to your goal. In all actuality, the business of
pinpointing cyclical trend in very complex, involving multiple theories
numerous mathematical calculations designed to take every variable
The Bass diffusion model is a popular model designed to determine when a
consumer will adopt a new product or technology. The three parameters of
the model are:
This is a very complicated model to understand. If you'd like to learn
about it, your can check out
or search for 'Bass diffusion model' at your favorite engine.
Beware, this is not for the mathematically challenged.
- the market potential; the total number of people who will eventually
use the product
- the coefficient of external influence; the likelihood that somebody
is not yet using the product will start using it because of mass media
coverage or other external factors
- the coefficient of internal influence; the likelihood that somebody
is not yet using the product will start using it because of
or other influence from those already using the product.
Seasonal Marketing Examples
Possessing specific sales and merchandising information about your
operation will allow you to produce reporting of your product and/or
performance. Unless you are a clairvoyant statistician, operate a monopoly
can rely upon existing industry trend analysis, manufacturing the
data for targeting your seasonal campaign can take some time. Fortunately
there are professionals who specialize into this trade.
- Event marketing
To accentuate your efforts for some future event or point in time, you
plan in advance. The conference and tradeshow business and the movie
are great examples of this. Based on time-specificity - the premiere or
conference dates - marketers perform research and analysis to react when
market is ripe, feeding the curiosity of their audiences, offering sneak
previews, early registration benefits, promotional gear and more to
demand. For example, movies that want a competitive edge at the Academy
Awards know to hit the big screen after October. This release is timed to
keep the buzz about the movie, a buzz that remains fresh in the minds of
judges and society until the presentation of the Oscars in March. March's
victorious actors and actresses can count on greater demand for their
services and the movie itself experiences greater box receipts, longer
periods of play in the theatre, and more demand in video stores.
- Risk management marketing
In an attempt to offset volatile price swings and ensure more predictable
steady pricing for natural elements and agricultural goods, some companies
design and implement risk management plans. Risk management incorporates
use of financial instruments, such as futures contracts and options. The
to a successful risk management plan is to clearly state and understand
objectives and determine whether they are driven by budget projections or
prior year's expenditures. This type of marketing has been implemented in
times of energy crisis and to a similar extent, as an exercise in
public relations during emergency crisis situations.
- Retail measurement services
The retail audit remains a valuable source of market information as a
measurement tool or as a supplement to or in lieu of scanning data. These
types of audits involve the continuous measurement of product and category
performance in the retail trade, reporting to clients on sales,
stocks, price and other measures which assist them in marketing and trade
negotiations and in commencing promotions when the market will bear fruit.
Just as stores showcase seasonal themes, your Web-based business can
its navigation structure to reflect a time-sensitive promotion.
Employing industry indicators, such as those provided by ACNielsen, allows
snapshot of your market competitiveness against the backdrop of rivaling
brands. Since the Web has is not border-sensitive, Nielsen's
customers international reporting within and across country boundaries
provides a global perspective. Nielsen now segments the Web as its own
entity. With immediate access to information, reporting and analysis, this
promises to be an exciting source of data for plotting seasonal business
activity per industry. For a price, they also offer a series of
business applications that can enhance the present functionality, giving
organizations the ability to plan, analyze and execute successful
and sales programs. Among these applications are Opportunity Explorer,
Executive Spotlight, Business Review, Trade Manager, Category Manager,
Promotion Optimizer, BrandView and BrandTrack.
Here are two more services that may lend a hand:
offers a service that focuses on the automation of developing seasonal
ACNielsen's SalesNET provides fast, easy access to pre-run reports and
charts. These are designed and tailored to focus on fact-based selling and
category management initiatives.
Take advantage of
this advanced notice and start an awareness campaign today! uPromote Custom Marketing.
First published in WebPromote's Sept. 1998, Vol. 4 newsletter.