Seasonal retail events are so well-established that it’s not often a new one gets a look in. So, say ‘hello’ to ‘Autumn’.
Working in retail design, we’ve been tracking seasonal retail events for a few years now. Over that time, we’ve seen autumn gain greater visibility. For example, autumn leaves appearing in Halloween creative, autumn decorations going on sale and even through tone of voice: Waitrose has previously used ‘Gather’ across its Halloween and Bonfire Night campaigns, a term which nods to autumnal activities like foraging and harvesting.
This year, Sainsbury’s has invested in design and NPD, launching its first ever ‘Autumn Edition’ product range under Taste the Difference, with its own distinct packaging. It marks a potential turning point for autumn as a permanent and bigger annual event in the retail calendar. Other examples of retailers plugging autumn right now include Hotel Chocolat selling ‘Autumn Brownies’ (though it’s unclear what makes them autumnal) and Asda visually calling autumn out in its ‘Get The Asda Price Feeling This Autumn’ campaign.
On the face of it, there’s a strong case for autumn. The sudden transition, in-store, from the summer to Halloween campaigns, can feel quite abrupt. And autumn doesn’t have the same negative perceptions that Halloween does (the ‘scariness’, trick or treating etc.) Instead it feels positive, it’s the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…” (John Keats), and this year in particular, it’s the hug we all need right now what with COVID-19, UK supply shortages and escalating climate change. Retailers even have an unofficial starting gun to get the season off to a good start: the annual release of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.
As with anything in retail, autumn’s success depends on strong investment and customers being given a clear ‘reason to believe’. But the signs already look promising.