In 1950, IKEA launched its first product catalog. What followed was more than 70 years of increasingly complex, engaging, and amusing retail campaigns built around this unassuming product book. The catalog was officially retired in 2021, but the company made an indelible mark on the retail marketing landscape since the first edition.
Not only has IKEA mastered the art of experiential retail—think of its immersive stores—but has consistently pushed the limits of online and offline marketing, blending out-of-the-box thinking and integrated experiences.
In an incredibly competitive landscape, this is the kind of thinking retailers need to emulate to stand out from the competition. Not everyone has IKEA’s marketing budget, of course, but a few innovative tactics and a bit of creative thinking can help your business stand out.
What is a retail marketing campaign?
A retail marketing campaign is a coordinated effort to promote your store, product, or service. The goal is to attract, engage, and retain customers, drive sales, and stand out in your industry. Retail marketing campaigns often combine print and digital advertising with in-store experiences.
Retail campaigns can include:
- Store layout
- In-store merchandising and presentation
- In-store experiences
- In-store product promotion
- Social media content and interactions
- Email marketing
- Third-party advertising and promotions
- Upselling and cross-selling promotions
- Customer support tactics
- Post-purchase nurturing
Together, these strategies can create a cohesive promotional campaign during a specific sales event like Black Friday or on an ongoing basis.
Benefits of retail marketing campaigns
Retail campaigns can increase awareness and interest in your brand and, if successful, drive sales to your retail store. The benefits of retail marketing campaigns include:
Awareness and demand
Retail marketing strengthens brand awareness among your target audience, incrementally increasing interest and demand for your products or services.
In a 2021 Marq survey, 68% of respondents said brand consistency contributed between 10% to 20% of revenue growth. Consistency is a brand-building tactic used to ensure the way a company presents itself is the same across all marketing and sales channels. Coordinated retail marketing campaigns are a great way to demonstrate brand consistency, which can lead to revenue growth.
Retail marketing campaigns often include remarketing, post-purchase nurture tactics—such as follow-up offers or product suggestions related to an original purchase—and abandoned-cart emails to remind customers about the brand and to help increase long-term customer loyalty. These tactics keep the brand top of mind for consumers, increasing the likelihood they’ll make more purchases in the future.
Innovative marketing campaigns can help smaller retail brands stand out in a crowded market, ensuring they reach the right audience at the right time. Large brands often have the luxury of significant marketing budgets, allowing them to place their logos and messaging onto a wide range of channels and ensure their products are always visible in the public sphere. Brands with more constrained budgets, however, need to be a bit more creative to ensure their message is noticed.
Cereal company Surreal does this by injecting humor and clever copywriting into their billboards and digital ads. This separates their brand messaging from others in this competitive space. As a result, their ads went viral in 2023, helping them take a bite out of the cereal market.
Sales and revenue
Ultimately, a successful retail campaign helps to attract more shoppers to a physical retail location or website by increasing interest in specific products and familiarity with the brand selling them. As more traffic converts to sales, these campaigns also boost the total amount of sales and revenue a business will generate.
Best retail campaign ideas, in-store and online
A great retail campaign starts with a specific goal. For example, to drive more revenue from a specific product. Brands must then create a campaign strategy to achieve the goal. This strategy is informed by variables like the target audience, budget, KPIs, and company objectives, and the competitive landscape.
The strategy will include the specific tactics the company will use to achieve its goal. Together, these individual tactics—and more—can create an integrated retail campaign to attract new and existing customers.
In-store marketing ideas
In-store marketing is any tactic that takes place inside a physical retail location. Here are a few campaign ideas:
Create unique and engaging experiences to reflect your company’s brand identity and encourage shoppers to interact with the space and products. This can be a fully immersive retail design or subtle additions to the online or in-store space to help customers connect with your products. Canada Goose, for example, specializes in clothing for cold weather. To help people truly test their products before buying, the company created cold rooms in select retail locations to let people experience wearing their coats in freezing temperatures.
Use signs and waymarkers to welcome shoppers to the store and direct them in creative ways to promotional items and other points of interest. Think about the in-store customer journey, from when they walk through the front door to when they’re waiting at the checkout.
Create fun competitions like scavenger hunts to encourage more foot traffic, longer in-store time, and engagement with specific products and brand elements.
Community and launch events
Kick-off major campaigns and product launches with a community event for local shoppers. Invite them to an in-store event to experience the space and try products. This is a great way to create buzz around a retail campaign and kick-start additional marketing tactics.
Online marketing ideas
Online marketing is any tactic that takes place through an online platform or communications channel. Here are online retail campaign ideas:
Organic social content
Organic content is content brands create and post to their social media feeds, in contrast to content they promote through paid advertising. With this content, brands can engage with social media influencers, use hashtags, and chat with similar brands in the same space to create a conversation and boost interest. Social media is also an opportunity to talk to customers and reply to comments to boost brand loyalty.
Expand the campaign’s reach to new customers with targeted Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok campaigns. Create content tailored to each platform and audiences to make your ads more relevant.
Segmented email lists
Shoppers love customized offers. Use customer segmentation to organize customers based on past purchases and behavior and send personalized promotional emails related to their interests. You can also use this tactic to give exclusive promotions to loyal shoppers based on their total lifetime spend.
Create online contests
What’s better than creating content about a brand or product? Happy customers doing it for free. Launch a social media contest encouraging customers to share photos and videos of themselves using your products. Share and comment on this content to engage with product users, and to help create a pool of user-generated content promoting the brand and campaign.
Tips for a successful retail campaign
- Improve customer engagement
- Remember the 4 Ps of retail marketing
- Lean into consumer trends and habits
- Make campaigns omnichannel
Know what potential customers want, where they consume content, and the type of messaging they respond to. These are three keys to a successful retail campaign. Each comes down to understanding your target audience and experimenting with different tactics.
Here are tips to gain this knowledge and parlay it into a successful retail campaign:
Improve customer engagement
To launch a successful retail marketing campaign, you first need to understand your target audience using tactics like market research, website behavior, sales analysis, customer feedback surveys, social media engagement, and customer support conversations. These insights help you create more personalized and targeted experiences that better engage buyers.
Remember the 4 Ps of retail marketing
The 4 Ps is a foundational model for building marketing strategies to connect with a target audience. It helps marketers think about each layer of a retail campaign to ensure they use the right strategies and tactics to meet their goals. The 4 Ps are:
- Product. The item or service a customer wants to purchase.
- Price. The price at which the company wants to sell products during the campaign.
- Place. Where customers can buy the products (such as in-store or online).
- Promotion. The company’s promotional plan to drive traffic and awareness.
Lean into consumer trends and habits
What makes consumers tick? What do they prioritize? What will they prioritize next year? These are questions retail marketers try to answer when planning a marketing campaign.
For example, according to the EY Future Consumer Index, 72% of consumers feel companies should drive better social and environmental outcomes. Brands that understand this trend can tackle the demand head-on by creating campaigns to tell their sustainability story, promote eco-friendly products, and help consumers offset their carbon emissions.
Make campaigns omnichannel
According to Deloitte, nearly 80% of retail executives see enhancing their omnichannel retail experience as a top growth opportunity. Consumers want to be able to shop for products and interact with brands through the channel of their choosing—online, offline, or hybrid.
You can meet this demand by accounting for all potential touchpoints during retail campaign planning and ensuring seamless experiences as shoppers transition between shopping spaces.
Retail campaigns FAQ
How do retail campaigns increase sales?
Retail campaigns increase sales by driving more engaged in-person or online traffic to your brick-and-mortar or online store. More traffic means a higher potential sales volume, especially with retail campaign tactics like coupons, discounting, upselling, and cross-selling.
How often should you run a retail campaign?
Retail campaigns can run year-round or during holidays and sales events like Black Friday. Generally, the ideal length of a marketing campaign is around three months, depending on specific goals and budgets. You may opt to rotate between campaigns at regular intervals to keep messaging and offers fresh to their target audience.
When are the best times to run a retail campaign?
The best time to run a retail campaign depends on your sales and marketing strategy, your target audience’s shopping habits, and external forces like shopping events and holidays. Cyber Week (including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday) and Christmas are the three most prominent shopping events of the year.