Alpaca farm stores across the nation report that 2019 was a record year for sales of alpaca goods, and it’s no surprise that the holidays were a huge sales driver. However, many business owners find that sales fall flat after the holiday season. The fall festivals and Christmas markets that are a touchstone of the season certainly make it easier to find customers and connect them to the gifts they are searching for. Though it may require some extra legwork, the diligent alpaca farmer can find ways to harness their holiday sales momentum into the New Year.
|Remember What You're Selling
Unlike some holiday gifts, alpaca products go hand-in-hand with cold weather. Don’t forget that winter only officially began on December 21st! It will be a long winter, and it’s bound to get colder and snowier. Alpaca socks, gloves, and hats, among other products, are naturally soft, strong and warm, making them great winter insulators! Warm, cozy alpaca clothing and accessories are a no brainer, but cold winters spent inside are also great times to knit. Alpaca yarns are a great item to market during the winter to your crafty customers.
Communicating the benefits of alpaca with potential customers can make or break a sale. Perhaps your customer received a pair of new snow boots for Christmas. Make their boots last longer and feel even warmer with a pair of alpaca boot inserts, by stressing alpaca’s moisture wicking and odor resistant properties!
Using clear marketing collateral at your farm or market booth can really help communicate the benefits of alpaca to your customer base. You can find a number of such posters in the Marketing & Collateral section of our website (which can be viewed when signed into your shopping account).
|Market to the "New Year" Mentality
“New Year, New You!” so the saying goes! Even before the holiday decor comes down, stores begin stocking up on cleaning products, exercise equipment, and health foods. For many, the New Year is synonymous with a lifestyle change, and resolutions mean a fresh start focusing on self-care. All-natural alpaca fiber is a healthy choice for clothing and accessories, as it’s naturally hypo-allergenic and odor resistant without the use of treatments and finishes. U.S. grown and made alpaca is renewable, sustainable, and beneficial for the climate at every stage of its life cycle. This makes it a perfect fit for customers hoping to to support slow, feel-good fashion and local small businesses as part of an overall lifestyle change. As an alpaca farmer and local business owner, it's your job to educate your customers on the power of their dollar and the meaningful story behind U.S. Grown, U.S. Made Alpaca.
|Reward Your Biggest Fans
For those who have received cash under the tree or in their stockings, a pair of alpaca socks could be the perfect gift. Incentivize post-holiday sales by offering a promotion to your customers. Even the most shopped-out shopper may not be able to resist a good deal! Utilize your growing email list and social media fanbase to market directly to your best customers and supporters. This could be through offering free shipping, a storewide sale, or a free gift with purchase. Even better? Take account of your inventory and discount your slower moving products with your own New Year's clean sweep. Not only will your customers appreciate the markdown, but you'll be able to make room in your inventory for the essentials in the upcoming year.
|Plan for Upcoming Holidays
Now is the time to start planning for smaller holidays like Valentine's Day, and even events like the Superbowl. The National Retail Federation found that in 2019, planned celebrations of Valentine’s Day were down, but spending was up. If trends for 2020 compare to those of 2019, an increasing number of shoppers will search for experiential gifts, rather than a bouquet of flowers or boxes of candy. As we noted in a previous article, farmers have found agritourism to be widely successful source of income. Your farm could host a one-on-one meeting with an alpaca on Valentine's Day, or be the backdrop for a wine tasting, paint night, or other romantic event.
|Reflect on 2019 and Prepare for the New Year
Even though sales may be down in comparison to November or December, it’s not the time to go silent. Be sure to continue marketing your products on social media, which is reportedly surpassing email marketing to become the most powerful marketing channel available. If possible, follow up and thank holiday shoppers, and ask them for a review on social media! Positive reviews can help drive business in your slow season, and you may simultaneously remind previous customers that they need to reorder something from you in the new year!
Remember, a dip in sales is to be expected after the holiday season, especially as the NRF reports that holiday sales represent about 20-30% of annual sales for most retailers. Use your downtime to plan for the following year. This may be through budgeting, or by creating new content for your social media page with the help of a social media calendar.
Consider what did well for you in the previous year, and what you could improve on. Think about the pop-up markets and events you attended - how were their sales compared to previous years? Make a list of pros and cons of each and start planning your calendar for the upcoming show season. Were there certain products that did well, or months that sales fell flat? If possible, find a way to highlight what you did well and troubleshoot what went wrong before things pick up again next fall... and don't forget to congratulate yourself for the job well done in 2019!
Cheers to 2020!
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