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5 tips for occasion-based marketing in your store

5 tips for occasion-based marketing in your store

To the German article

Have you ever heard of the term occasion-based marketing? Find out why occasion-based marketing works so well and how merchants can benefit from this method.

Occasion-based marketing – what is it?

The term "occasion-based shopping" describes the shopping behaviour of consumers based on specific occasions. Occasion-based marketing is about getting the most from the potential of these occasion-based purchases. The relevance of this for ecommerce is underlined by a study from the market research agency Gfk, a consumer research company, which found that 40% of all purchases relate to an occasion and__ account for over half of total sales __[1].

But if you think you can only utilise this potential for occasions such as Christmas or Easter, you're missing out. When it comes to occasion-based shopping, a general distinction can be made between three categories of occasions:

  • Holidays & seasonal celebrations (e.g. Easter, Christmas or New Year's Eve)
  • Seasonal occasions (e.g. first day of school, barbecue season, Advent)
  • All year-round occasions (e.g. girls' night out or family dinner)

As you can see, personal and individual occasions also play a major role in occasion-based shopping – which means that occasion-based marketing offers potential for you as a merchant throughout the year. 



There are special occasions all year round – use their marketing potential!

Why you should be implementing occasion-based marketing

What is interesting about this is the fact that customers deviate from their usual shopping behaviour on certain occasions and consumption behaviour increases. They shop more and choose different products than they usually would. Above all, more branded items are bought on certain occasions. Customers choose the cheaper chocolate if it is intended for themselves, but prefer the more expensive chocolate if it is bought as a gift or for a special occasion – does this sound familiar to you?

In fact, according to one study, the purchase value of occasion-based shopping is around 33% higher than that of everyday shopping [2]. So you see, with the right incentives, you can boost your conversions with occasion-based marketing. But not only that, if you offer your customers personalised offers at the right moment in your store, this also has a positive influence on their customer loyalty.

You can succeed in occasion-based marketing with these 5 tips

1. Know your customers – in order to address your customers in a personalised way and to effectively promote the events that are relevant to them, it is important to have a precise understanding of your customers and their requirements. Learn more about consumer insights in this blog post.

2. In order to address your customers according to their needs and to identify suitable occasions for occasion-based marketing, it may be very useful for you to create personas.

3. Collect the digital footprints your customers leave behind on their customer journey in your online store – and draw valuable conclusions from them!

4. Send customers personalised messages on occasions that are potentially relevant to them. With the Shopware 6 Flow Builder you can now easily automate these processes and send personalised messages to certain customer groups, which are activated by a trigger you define.

5. The proof of the pudding is in the eating – try things out, learn from your experiences and adapt your occasion-based marketing if necessary. This way you will quickly develop a sense of which campaigns will go down well with your customers. 

A foray into sales psychology: how does occasion-based marketing work?

Why does it work when we entice potential customers with specific occasion-related offers? According to scientific theories from consumer research, this is related to both cognitive and activating processes in the brain.

  • Activating processes are associated with internal excitement and stress. As the name suggests, they activate human behaviour and they supply it with energy and drive. Activating processes include emotions, motivation and attitudes.
  • Cognitive processes control how well people absorb, process and store information.

The trick is that activation ensures a person takes action. On the one hand, it can have an effect on behaviour, but on the other hand, it can also influence cognitive processes. This means that people who are activated take in information better, remember it or even perform an action directly [3].

Now you are probably wondering what activating and cognitive processes have to do with occasion-based marketing. It’s like this: your customers often take a passive role in communication and have little interest in engaging with advertising. This means that you need to use your advertising to arouse the interest of the consumer. To do this, you can use what are known as activation techniques, which are particularly applicable to occasion-based marketing [4].


Activation techniques in occasion-based marketing

As a merchant, you are now faced with the challenge of standing out in the increasing flood of information, drawing attention to your store and at the same time not being perceived as a nuisance. In the worst case, not using activation techniques means that you may not be addressing your target group optimally, or even not addressing them at all. However, the higher the activation when using advertising, the more efficiently the advertising message is received and processed, which also increases your advertising success [5].

Occasion-based shopping is mostly based on impulsive buying decisions in which emotions play a major role. This is why you should focus your advertising campaigns for holidays such as Christmas or Easter on emotional stimuli that correspond to the interests of your target group. Using Christmas as an example, you can use qualities such as warmth, hope, nostalgia, love or family to evoke associations with Christmas. A campaign that only focuses on price would only trigger a small response from your customers [6]. However, depending on the occasion and product, coupons can also be an option for activating consumers. The same applies here too: know your target group and their requirements. Your advertising should always be tailored to your target audience so that they can identify with your storytelling.

Identification of target group-specific occasions in occasion-based marketing

First of all, you should be familiar with the occasions throughout the year that are important for your target group. You can then place specific triggers in your store to impress your customers with your products and awaken their hidden desires.

For example, do you have products in your store that would be perfect for a typical girls' night out? Then how about a Shopware Experience World for National Women's Friendship Day on 18/09/2022? You can use an emotive setting appropriate to the theme to perfectly present images, texts and, of course, the products. Find out more about the opportunities that Shopping Experiences offer you in Shopware 6.

On occasions such as the annual Valentine's Day on 14 February, it may also be worth your while to design product packaging, especially for this occasion and to promote special editions. When products are purchased as a gift instead of for personal use, product packaging plays a major part in the purchase decision.



You'd only buy a muffin like this for Valentine's Day, right?

Ideally, you should find triggers for your occasion-based marketing that as many consumers from your target group as possible can identify with. You should always try to put your target group in an emotionally charged buying situation and not use stimuli that are too weak or too strong [7]. 

So you see, you can benefit a lot from occasion-based marketing if you know the right occasions and are aware of the factors that will make your marketing successful. 

Do you want to keep an eye on special occasions in 2022? You can find an overview with helpful practical tips in our 2022 marketing calendar!

To the 2022 marketing calendar

You might also be interested in:


[1] https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2405078/cms-pdfs/fileadmin/user_upload/dyna_content/de/documents/webinars/gfk_webinar_occasion_based_shopping__obs__2016-02-25.pdf
[2] https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2405078/cms-pdfs/fileadmin/user_upload/dyna_content/de/documents/webinars/gfk_webinar_occasion_based_shopping__obs__2016-02-25.pdf
[3] Kroeber-Riel, W./Gröppel-Klein, A. (2013): Konsumentenverhalten, p.304.
[4] Ibid., p. 95.
[5] Ibid., p. 96.
[6] Cartwright, J./McCormick Helen/Warnaby Gary (2016): Consumers' emotional responses to the Christmas TV advertising of four retail brands, in: Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Nr. 29, p.82-86.
[7] Horstmann, F. (2019): Individuell und anlassbezogen, in: Markenartikel, p. 38.


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