Three ways food-based businesses can profit from Thanksgiving
When it comes to holidays that push people to shop or otherwise spend money, none of them beat Christmas or its wintry cohorts. That doesn’t mean your small business can't profit from this week's holiday –even if it isn’t one that sells turkey and all the usual trimmings.
Here’s how two businesses have tapped into Thanksgiving for increased sales this season, and how yours may be able to do so when it rolls around again next year.
1. Say "hello" to seasonal flavors.
That's the main strategy employed by Seattle's Mighty-O Donuts this time of year. The bakery, which has been in business since 2000, does its best to entice customers new and old with pumpkin spice and apple spice doughnuts as Thanksgiving approaches. It also offers warm holiday drinks, like seasonal 'nog lattes and hot apple cider, says owner Ryan Kellner. The seasonal focus "really does boost sales, because everybody always wants something new."
2. Start holiday efforts in Halloween and extend through the winter holidays.
Allowing Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to overlap a bit in terms of your offerings isn’t a bad idea, if Mighty-O Donuts' success is any indication. The pumpkin spice doughnuts that appear at the business’ flagship shop in the lead-up to Halloween stay on its menu—and continue to draw hungry customers—through Thanksgiving, while the eggnog lattes that initially appear at the end of November stick around until the end of December. (Other businesses that could adopt this strategy include coffee shops and breweries.)
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3. Prepare early for the onslaught of shoppers.
"Our business is very much seasonal in that when it's warmer out nationwide, we see fewer sales as people are off their computers and out doing other things," says Ryan Wilson, co-owner of VeganEssentials, an online store based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that first opened its virtual doors in 1998. The company sells a lot of meat alternatives, as well as holiday food staples and sweets throughout the month of November, thanks to its focus on animal-free products. "As the fall season arrives, people begin staying indoors more and also tend to shop more, so sales gradually increase, and as they get into holiday shopping mode, we're always following in line to make sure we're preparing ourselves for the increase."
Both Kellner and Wilson recommend taking advantage of social media to maximize your efforts during the Thanksgiving season and beyond. "Social media is really a great tool for us," Kellner says, in part because it allows Mighty-O Donuts to share photos of its products. "We've drawn away from doing much print promotion because the world has become so connected by online outlets."
Wilson echoes that advice, saying that VeganEssentials does a lot of promotion via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter this time of year. Such efforts "have helped ensure we can sell out of 99 percent of those products by the time the holiday rolls around."