The Challenge Of Satisfying Fickle Consumer Tastes

Dennis Ryan Element 79 Chicago AdvertisingWalking through Walgreens this evening, you couldn’t miss them.  They lay scattered across mostly-empty shelves, the last remaining Easter peeps carelessly strewn about like so much post-flood flotsam: bent, misshapen, and decidedly past their prime.  When Easter has come and gone, woe be to the luridly-colored, sugared marshmallow wad that never found a basket…

Every Holiday, it’s the same thing; everyone joneses for that one must-have, memory-invoking, comfort food that reminds us of magical Holiday moments from our past.  On Valentine’s Day, it’s those chalky message hearts.  Every Thanksgiving, it’s yams and cranberry sauce.  And Christmas offers egg nog, candy canes, and the ever mockable fruit cake.  When a Holiday rolls around, our collective desire for these season-specific foods quickly escalates into need and God help the local grocer who fails to adequately prepare for the onslaught.

But how do the producers do it?  How do they manage through this intense,  once-a-year madness?  How do tree farms and sparkler companies and “Kiss me I’m Irish” pin makers survive the other 364 days of their business calendars?  How do businesses like these sustain?

It’s a miracle of commerce, a triumph of the entrepeneurial spirit, and a testament to patience.  Not to mention a disposal challenge for distressed, radically marked-down inventory.

Of course, played right, it can also mean four boxes of peeps for a buck.  Which is pretty sweet.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79