The Marketing Genius of an Advent Calendar

Advent Calendars are a staple in the British calendar in December. Big brands are great at producing there an opportunity for small businesses to catch up?

👋 Introduction

This isn’t a case study, more of an observation. So here goes.

Halloween is over.

In the UK, Christmas is on, whether you want to admit it or not. It feels weird writing that right now, as the UK is set to enter into another lockdown, but some form of Christmas will still definitely happen.

What I have been thinking about recently are advent calendars.
The first chocolate advent calendar appeared in 1958, by German company Sellmer. They were already producing paper advent calendars, and just added chocolates.

This is what their paper version looks like, and they still exist today. You can even order yours on Amazon.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that British chocolate company Cadbury jumped on the bandwagon and started producing their own chocolate advent calendars throughout the 70’s and 80’s.

It took 20 years, or 20 Christmasses to create a real mainstream tradition, in the 90’s. Growing up in the 90’s, I remember always having a chocolate advent calendar, with some type of character on it.

Maybe a generic Santa or Rudolph, or sometimes a TV character like my personal childhood favourite, Thomas The Tank Engine.

Flash forward to 2020, and chocolate is not the only product found behind little doors.

Here is a list of the top advent calendars this year. Heads up, some are not chocolate. What I find interesting about advent calendars is that they are ridiculously overpriced, and are a sampler menu for brands.

Advent calendars are a glorified marketing opportunity for brands to sell samples, and if the customer enjoys the samples, they will come back all year.

This is something that big brands are great at, but do small businesses attempt it?

Firstly, let’s look at what some big brands are doing.

🚂 Playmobil Back To The Future Advent Calendar

Now, I have no idea what Back To The Future has to do with Christmas, but here we are. What I am trying to figure out is who this is targeting. I am guessing men in their 20s and 30s?

By giving people the opportunity the purchase some Back To The Future characters in the advent calendar, they are ultimately promoting a larger product, like the DeLorean car, costing £40.

🕯 Yankee Candle Advent Calendar

I am a sucker for candles, although I tend to buy more independent brands. Anyway, who would have thought back in the 90’s that a candle advent calendar would be a thing.

Yankee Candle’s advent calendar has little candles behind every door. Samples. Small little tea lights.

Let’s say that I received one particular tealight behind door number 16. If I liked that candle, I would most likely buy a full version.

They are giving away samples, and hoping you buy a larger jar candle.

🐷 Snaffling Pig Advent Calendar

Pork Scratchings. Yes.

Weird right? I have heard of this company before, and I am not keen on pork scratchings. It is to someone’s taste.

Again, with this calendar, you get to sample the product. And if you like the product, you can buy more from their website, and become a “full time” customer.

These are just three examples. With a quick search on Amazon you can find beauty advent calendars, PREMIUM chocolate advent calendars, tea advent calendars, cheese advent calendars and jam advent calendars to name a few.

So my ultimate question is:

Why don’t more small businesses design their own advent calendars? I know it can be expensive with upfront costs, but it is definitely something I would support.

And the benefits could be huge. If you reach new customers with an advent calendar, you could turn them into lifelong customers.

This is something that could work for any type of food and drink companies, and if you are a freelancer for one of these, perhaps it is something to consider for 2021. I can see it working for vineyards for sure.

If they had an advent calendar with 24 mini bottles of their wine.
Just have a think about it. I am sure an advent calendar approach to marketing, by basically selling samples, could work for multiple industries.

Get case studies sent to your inbox, every week.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By signing up you agree to our Terms & Conditions