How to make the most of Christmas trade for your food enterprise

We don’t need research to prove shopper activity is affected by Christmas, just a quick look at your local high street in December will do! Most customers care about Christmas and your relevant, seasonal efforts show your customers you care about them.

In return, this will help you generate more customer loyalty in the long run. So, don’t miss out on this valuable moment to connect with and grow your customer base. Read on for five tips to help you identify seasonal opportunities and make the most of them.

 

Tip 1: Spread Christmas Cheer


With the effect of the pandemic and further lockdowns, this is likely to be a very different kind of Christmas for most of us. In light of this, spread seasonal cheer wherever and whenever you can to help your customers end the year on a positive note. For in the words of the great Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Taking this into account, how can you spread Christmas cheer in these challenging times?

You could create some Christmas imagery for your enterprise which you can then use year after year. Spread positivity with your social media posts, emails and any comms you are putting out. A quick way to do this before posting or sending anything is to ask yourself:

 

Is it Entertaining

  • Is it readable? Fun? Imaginative?
  • Does it make people laugh? Don’t be afraid to use humour. Of course, this is totally subjective, but you will get to know what works for your customers.
  • Here is a great example from Tamar Valley Food Hubs! 

 

Does it provoke Emotion?

  • Does it reach your customer on a personal or deeper level? Does it make them feel something?
  • Write content which helps your customers form a personal or emotional connection with your enterprise.
  • For example, to help your customers to connect with what you are doing you could put a human face to your enterprise and share stories about your producers, growers and team members.

 

For more ideas, watch this webinar where we cover lots of ways you can optimise both your messaging and your OFN shopfront for Christmas:

 

 

Tip 2: Show Your Customers You Care

 

Help your customers feel understood

If we want to generate a sense of belonging and customer loyalty, then we want all of our customers to feel valued, respected and understood. This is why it’s a good idea to consider what your customers may be missing out on this year. What do they need? What do they want?

Traditionally Christmas campaigns are usually all about gathering together with friends and family to enjoy good food. This messaging might be challenging or upsetting to some of your customers who may be facing the prospect of Christmas alone. Instead, you could focus on:

  • Enjoying treats at home 
  • Sending edible gifts to loved ones
  • Finding comfort in holiday cheer at home

Equally important to consider is customer confidence, which is at an all time low. Many people have concerns around cleanliness, financial worries, and more. Supermarkets feel like unsafe territory for many, so this is an opportunity to help your customers to feel safe and secure shopping with you. Consider:

  • What is your Covid policy? Make it clear and easy to find. 
  • Are there any extra steps you can take to keep people safe? Here is a link to a webinar where we cover this in more detail.
  • Do your customers have financial concerns? You could focus messaging on value for money and perhaps offer an ‘essentials’ box.

 

Look after new customers

Many hubs see an influx of new customers over the Christmas season. Make the most of this and convince your new customers to stay by helping them feel they belong. Try to understand the way new customers first experience your hub and consider new ways to improve your on-boarding process. Your customers will trust you more if they have a better impression of you in the first few interactions before and after purchase: 


Before purchase:

Don’t let your new customers feel uninformed – make it as clear as possible how to buy from you. You might think it’s obvious, but there is a very real block for the consumer to try something new and buy in a different way. A quick tip to help with this is to make sure you explain the process clearly using three stages. For example:

  • Step one: Visit our online shop here: (URL). Include a link which takes your customer to your shopfront.
  • Step two: Place your order and checkout. Step through the process yourself and make note of any bits which may be confusing or sticky for your customer. Explain the process clearly.
  • Step three: Collect your delicious food on (date) from here (address). Add simple details about what they can expect and what they need to do when they arrive. Demystify the process as much as you can. You could include a photo so they can visualise what it would look like to shop with you.

The most important thing to remember here is that a confused customer almost always says “no.” Or as Donald Miller puts it:

“if you confuse, you’ll lose”. 


After purchase:

How can you make your new customers feel valued? Personalisation is a good place to start. You could send welcome emails or include a seasonal greeting and thank you in their first order. This may be the first time your new customer has ever bought a veg box (for example). In which case, you could offer helpful advice, share recipes or explain ‘how-to’ prepare tricky vegetables. 

Mull over how you can recognise your customers in unexpected ways and make their experience personal to strengthen the bond with your hub. Going the extra mile for your customers helps to build long-term loyalty. Equally, You could identify existing customers who haven’t purchased anything in a while and reconnect with them by sending seasonal greetings and checking they are okay.

 

Tip 3: Make The Most Of Your Community

 

When your customers are connected and happy with what you are doing, they will naturally want to share their enthusiasm with their friends and family. Most people trust word of mouth recommendations more than any other type of promotional activity, which is a great reason to encourage word of mouth in your communities. Get started by asking your team, friends and family to spread the word about your food enterprise.

Then, ask your best customers, who you have a good relationship with, to spread the word for you too. Remember, most people feel great when they help out. You could also ask for a written review or testimonial to share on your website or social media to take the word of mouth benefit online.

 

Tip 4: Plan Ahead

 

No one likes last minute Christmas shopping, so help make things easier for your customers to plan in advance. Some of Christmas products take months to make (eg. Christmas cake) and others (hampers) take time to organise. Perhaps start a Christmas order cycle now with selected items so producers can take advance orders.

It’s also a good time to consider how you could diversify your product range for Christmas. People will shop for gifts earlier than they shop for Christmas day fayre as they need time to send/give it to the recipient! What about locally grown Christmas wreaths or handmade gift items from local artisans? Can you offer gift wrapping? Can you offer to deliver gifts this year? 

Likewise, plan ahead for after Christmas. Let your customers know in advance if you are open between Christmas and New Year. Can you prepare anything now for the January slump, like a fortnight of free delivery?

 

Tip 5: Learn from your peers

 

For more ideas and inspiration here is a practical conversation with Rosie Jack from Bowhouse Link where Rosie shares how they manage and prepare for Christmas:

 

 

All things considered, it is more important than ever to ensure you are giving your customers a positive experience with your enterprise this Christmas. Share excitement and enthusiasm with your customers and remember, most of your customers care about what you care about!

 

Want more?

​​​​​​​​Do you want more resources and support for your food enterprise? If so, here’s what you do next:

  • Join our Thriving Food Hubs Facebook group here
  • Join our ‘offerings of the week’ weekly bulletin here for all our best & most valuable offerings of the week – including exclusive webinar invites, the latest OFN Release info and exciting updates, useful and practical content, specialist Q&As session invites and all our latest and best support offerings.

 


Kayleigh Reed

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