Summer: Here for a limited time only

July 12, 2023

Summer in Carolinas: the season of beach trips, lake days, All-Star baseball games, and… limited time offers. Seasonality has and always will play a key role in marketing. 

From summer specials to Christmas and holiday exclusives, seasonal campaigns and products show you’re paying attention to what’s going on in the world around you. They can be a powerful tool. But they have to be done right. 

Why brands like them 

From the iconic McRib right through to luxury Hermes x Apple watch collabs, brands in all sectors and at all price points play around with limited time offers (LTOs). Both as Marketing Director for British restaurant chain Pieminster and now as the Founder of Bodhi & Co, I’ve used LTOs as a tool to boost demand. Why? They work. The combination of relevance and scarcity can deliver a surge in interest and demand. FOMO can be a powerful revenue generator. For smaller brands, they’re an opportunity to buddy up with big names, reaching and delighting a new audience. 

Why consumers like them 

From a consumer perspective, variety really is the spice of life. Whether it’s re-engaging with a brand you already know or finding a new company through a seasonal campaign, LTOs give us that shiny new feeling that us human magpies can’t ignore. 

Repeated LTOs also become a calendar feature. Just think of the Starbucks red cup. There’s a whole group of customers who countdown to its return. They feel like the holiday season only starts once there’s a hot peppermint mocha in a red cup in their hands (and they’ve posted it to Instagram, of course #StarbucksRedCup).

Thinking lean for LTOs

Done right, the scarcity factor of LTOs makes you instantly relevant, reigniting interest from existing customers and attracting new ones. But overcomplicating and overproducing for a temporary product line can result in huge waste, both in materials, operational complexity and time. Instead, see LTOs as a lean way to test a new menu item. Plan well, and keep things simple, producing small quantities to test the water and minimize waste. 

The customer is always right 

The golden rule for LTOs? Listen. Reacting and responding to your customers is even more important with an LTO. If it gets a negative reception or – even worse – stony silence, be prepared to pivot or pull the plug, ready to carry learnings into next season. 

On the flip side, if it’s a runaway success, who’s to say that limited time offer can’t earn its place as a permanent product and become the next old favorite.

Author Headshot

Dani Wilkinson

Dani has a passion for making brands sparkle. From Dyson vacuum cleaners to Pies, she built brands from the ground up and has a strong perspective from both high-level, to actual practicalities and how to get something done.

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