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Promote grill celebrations

Any time is a good time to run a barbecue promotion, since 60% of households barbecue year-round.

Donna Myers, Staff Staff -- Casual Living, May 1, 2008

Any time is a good time to run a barbecue promotion, since 60% of households barbecue year-round.

May and June are peak season for barbecue sales, but with a slowing economy and concern rampant about escalating energy, food and gasoline prices, it may take a little ingenuity to ensure your barbecue sales reflect the peak season.

Start by taking a positive approach to the gloom and doom recession talk that we’re exposed to daily. Use bold banners to remind everyone who drives by your store that this is an ideal time to “Invest in a New Grill and Party In Your Own Backyard!” Or invite shoppers to learn “It’s Easy to Enjoy a Great Vacation Without Leaving Home.” Now that you’ve got their attention, show them how to upgrade their backyard with a new built-in grill, outdoor fire pit or a hammock, hot tub or spa if you carry those, instead of taking an exotic and expensive vacation. Emphasize these investments are permanent improvements to their home in addition to making life more comfortable, inviting and fun for family and friends.

Luckily, May and June offer many special occasions for which barbecue-related gifts are the perfect solution. Women are wielding the tongs much more often and enthusiastically these days, so Mother’s Day is an excellent time to display a variety of grills as well as many accessories that will make outdoor cooking even more convenient. “Make It An Awesome Mother’s Day – Give Her A Grill” could be a banner outside the store or a poster or tent card inside. Gather a selection of accessories and make a display with a sign that says “Take Your Choice — Mom Will Love Them All!” Frequently, all it takes is a simple visual or suggestion to make someone who had never connected Mom and barbecue to realize this is a super combination.

The idea of a barbecue gift for Father’s Day isn’t as unique, but it is still very viable. This might be the time to think about promoting a smoker with a banner saying – “The Man Who Has Everything Will Love A Smoker.” Educate consumers they can choose from electric, gas or charcoal smokers at a number of price points to make one affordable for most any budget. If he already has a smoker, suggest an assortment of flavored wood pellets, chips or chunks to add flavor enhancement to smoke cooking, a barbecue cookbook that focuses on smoking or a deck protector to place under the grill.

June is popular for weddings, and a grill or accoutrements have become gifts of choice on many wedding registries. Once the province of the bride, today’s gift list is often a collaboration between bride and groom. Since many couples today are a bit older, both probably already have furnished an apartment or condo. Thus, they may shun the basics in favor of more luxurious items, and barbecue grills are high on their list. Ask where and how the couple will live before recommending which grill to buy. Are they avid tailgaters who would love a portable grill to take to the stadium? If they’ll live in an apartment with a small terrace they will likely need an electric grill with a small footprint. But a home with a patio, deck or ample backyard may mean the choices are unlimited.

People relocating often wait until school is out, so this is also a time of year when families find themselves shopping for housewarming gifts. Eight out of 10 households enjoy barbecuing, so what could be more appropriate than a grill or even a festive barbecue basket? The basket contents could be an assortment of sauces and rubs, some intriguing accessories or a barbecue cookbook – perhaps something unexpected like one that concentrates on grilling fruits and veggies or fish and seafood. If you offer a gift basket focused on plank cooking, include several planks.

When families visit someone for the day, spend a night or even a weekend, a hostess gift is usually in order. Most of the ideas for a housewarming gift also will work well to say “thanks for your hospitality.”

It doesn’t take much of an excuse to dream up a special promotion that will get people thinking about barbecue. Make your promotions both festive and very visible.

Signage out front ensures attention. Bunches of balloons or waving flags immediately arouse curiosity about what’s happening here.

Each of these holidays or special occasion celebrations must be communicated in your local newspaper, television or radio advertisements to increase store traffic. Think about other ideas that tie in well with your theme, such as a live radio broadcast, a guest chef cooking or a book signing by an author.

For Father’s Day have shoppers enter a drawing for a couple of weeks prior to win steaks or a set of premium barbecue utensils. For Mother’s Day, promote a book such as one by the BBQ Queens, which emphasizes women approach outdoor cooking differently than men do. Offer a bag of natural lump charcoal with every charcoal grill sale over a certain reasonably high dollar amount. Or include a griddle or other optional accessory free with every premium grill sold.

If sales seem slower than you anticipated, find reasons to run more innovative promotions. They will help attract the traffic required to green your bottom line.

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