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Your Guide to Mastering Micro-Occasion Marketing

What if you didn’t have to wait for big holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year's to make an impact in your marketing efforts? With the power of micro-occasions, you can start leveraging smaller, unique moments to boost your brand.

March 20, 2024

Your Guide to Mastering Micro-Occasion Marketing

*A condensed version of this article was first published in MediaPost's Marketing Daily*

What if you didn’t have to wait for big holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year's to make an impact in your marketing efforts? With the power of micro-occasions, you can start leveraging smaller, unique moments to boost your brand. This out-of-the-box marketing tactic will allow you to capitalize on everyday occasions to make a huge impression on shoppers.

For a look at the impact micro-occasions can have, just think about one of the most-well known brand phrases from Snickers, “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry.” When Snickers sales were declining from 2007-2009, Snickers needed to think beyond the impulse buy to draw in more consumers. The Snickers brand capitalized on the micro-occasion of hanger (the familiar feeling of getting cranky between meals) and positioned their candy as a quick and easy fix to when being hungry makes you a different person. Using micro-occasion marketing in this case led to a 15.9% increase in Snickers sales!

Now that you’ve seen how impactful micro-occasion marketing can be, let’s dive into what micro-occasions really are and how you can use them to drive sales and make a lasting impression on consumers all year long. We’ll offer you valuable insights and our advice on best practices, including advice from Jamie Needham of General Mills.

What are micro-occasions?

When people think of occasion-based marketing, they often jump to big holidays like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. But for micro-occasions, you need to think smaller. Micro-occasions aren’t always holidays or recognized events; they might even be as small as a recurring morning cup of coffee or a weekly workout routine. These are occasions for shoppers, whether they recognize it or not.

Micro-occasions are the small, yet significant moments that punctuate our daily lives. Brands can strategically tap into these moments to connect with customers in a personal way and make their brand a part of these meaningful experiences. This specific form of occasion-based marketing means brands aren’t forced to wait for big events to base their marketing around; they can create micro-occasions out of small moments year-round.

Micro-occasions might be unconventional, smaller occasions that re-occur annually, like Earth Day, Small-Business Saturday or even something like National Donut Day. But they can also be occasions that become of interest due to popularity, like a celebrity trend or the release of a popular movie (think Barbie!). These popularity-based micro-occasions might be found in TikTok trends or celebrity endorsements; they require keeping a pulse on pop culture and capitalizing quickly.

What do micro-occasions do for advertisers?

Micro-occasions have the potential to make a huge impact for brands and advertisers. According to Shopware, 40% of all purchases are related to an occasion and account for over half of total sales. When shoppers are purchasing for an occasion or for something special, they tend to spend more; there is an approximately 33% higher purchase value for occasion-based shopping vs. everyday shopping. Breaktime Media experiences have even seen a 40% higher add-to-cart rate when the experience is tied to a micro-occasion. What all of these statistics mean is that focusing on micro-occasions in your CPG marketing can drive big results for your brand, contributing to increased sales and connecting with shoppers by showing you understand the occasions that are important to them.

Examples of micro-occasions:

To gain a better understanding of micro-occasions, here are a few general examples that brands might consider using as part of their marketing campaigns:

The morning routine:

Brands can target individuals during a wide range of potential morning rituals, such as enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, brushing their teeth, washing their face or getting dressed for the day. This might involve offering personalized content, product recommendations, or promotions related to these activities.

Mealtime:

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day present opportunities for brands to engage with consumers. Brands can make specific moments out of these various meal experiences in order to market their products. This might include sharing recipes, offering food pairing suggestions, providing nutritional information, or promoting products that enhance mealtime experiences.

Shopping:

Everyday shopping experiences, whether online or offline, can be transformed into micro-occasions by honing in on certain elements of the experience. Brands can create personalized shopping recommendations, offer exclusive discounts or rewards, or provide virtual try-on features to enhance the customer journey.

These are just a few general examples; the fun thing about micro-occasions is that their potential is truly limitless. Brands just need to understand how to turn a moment in a shopper’s life into an occasion.

How can you make micro-occasions work for your brand?

We spoke with Jamie Needham (Ecommerce & Shopper Marketing Lead at General Mills), who has found success leaning into micro-occasions, to share further insight on these six key things to think about when considering incorporating micro-occasion marketing into your mix. In order to make micro-occasions work for your brand, these are a few key takeaways both the Breaktime team and Needham recommend to keep in mind:

Know your audience and meet them where they are

To choose the right micro-occasions to focus on, you need to understand your audience so you can meet them where they are. “Post-pandemic, shopping and social have become one and the same,” Needham points out, highlighting the importance of meeting the consumer at the right channel (whether that’s Instagram, TikTok, TV, or elsewhere) and at the right time. Additionally, you don’t want to hone in on a micro-occasion that won’t have any significance to your target audience; really get to know your shoppers so you can focus on truly specific micro-occasions.

Think about something you can own

Micro-occasions become even more powerful when they’re uniquely tied to your brand (think back to Snickers!). How can you name or even create a micro-occasion that will be memorable enough for your audience to put your brand in the spotlight?

Start from a place of emotion

When you try to create micro-occasions, approach from a place of emotion. Because micro-occasions aren’t typically planned-upon moments, “you have to remind the shopper of the opportunity of the micro-occasion,” Needham calls out. Think about what will emotionally appeal to your audience, and how you can use their feelings around a certain moment or occasion to work for your brand.

Be authentic and relevant

Understanding your target audience enough to connect with them in an authentic and relevant way within these micro-moments is extremely important. Focusing on these two pillars in your marketing efforts will ensure your campaign hits home.

Get all teams on the same page

Ensuring all teams- from brand, to shopper, to sales - are all on the same page when it comes to micro-occasion marketing is key when it comes to developing a cohesive campaign. Having consistency across the board is what allows for a successful omnichannel execution. Needham highlights how “no matter what you’re trying to sell, storytelling is one of the main components of success.” Making sure your team understands the story is key.

Follow consumer trends closely and be ready to respond

A huge part of utilizing micro-occasions is jumping on those that emerge from online trends and influencer behavior. Keep an eye on consumer trends and be ready to use them in your occasion-based marketing efforts. “You have to move fast!” Needham reminds us, pointing out the need to move “simply, quickly, and with reason and rationale.” Keeping those principles in mind will allow you to capitalize on micro-occasions successfully.

Case studies of campaigns with micro-occasions

To better understand the impact of micro-occasions, we’ve compiled some case studies that owned an occasion and saw successful outcomes. Below are a few examples of campaigns that have utilized the power of micro-occasions in order to drive incredible results:

General Mills: Home Appetit

This campaign from General Mills in collaboration with Breaktime Media focused on creating an occasion around food needs “fast,” with a focus on value and simplicity. The campaign delivered inspiration tailored to the consumer’s needs based on the specific occasion. This campaign resulted in a positive return on ad spend, 75K+ unique engagements, and an average engagement time of 2:38.

King’s Hawaiian: Slider Sunday

This campaign from King’s Hawaiian intended to capitalize on the white space opportunity around Sliders. They aimed to create an occasion that would drive the frequency of purchase week after week and ultimately settled on "Slider Sunday," an event focused on testing out new recipes with family & friends, to get King's Hawaiian on shopping lists. The campaign resulted in a 16% sales lift!

Lego: Find Your Flow

This campaign from Lego looked to drive awareness of ways to “unbuild” the stress in adult consumers’ everyday lives with a hands-on, mindful activity, leveraging lightness and humor within their advertising to help shoppers find their flow. It acknowledged the stress adults face in their day-to-day lives while driving awareness around Lego products for adult usage, bringing more consumers into the hobby.


General Mills: Earth Day

This campaign from General Mills sprung from a goal to make an impact around Earth Day by bringing nature to consumers via PRIME TV. By focusing on this micro-occasion, the campaign was hugely successful, resulting in the single largest sales day in company partnership history and a Creative Brand Building Award from Amazon. The brand even achieved the maximum donation to the National Parks Foundation by consumer activation!

Conclusion

Micro-occasions are the perfect way to enhance your occasion-based marketing through more specific, targeted occasions for shoppers, without the need to rely on big events or holidays. In fact, Needham reveals that “micro-occasions are the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between macro-occasions and big holidays, allowing advertisers to sustain purchase relevance for consumers.” Hone in on a micro-occasion that will speak to your shoppers, and make it your own—you’ll be surprised at the big impact it will have on your brand.

Sources:

Shopware, "5 Tips for Occasion Based Marketing in Your Store"

James Miller, “Case study: How fame made Snickers' 'You're not you when you're hungry' campaign a success