How to boost sales with occasion-based marketing

Events are back, and people are ready to have fun

Attended events are booming in 2022 as a result of pent up demand over the past two years since the onset of COVID 19 and worldwide lockdowns. In the US, the urge to socialize is driving a fast-paced recovery for the events industry, including the return of events such as festivals, concerts, conferences and expos, and more sponsored by various venues and brands. 

Although certain large-scale events such as the Sundance Film Festival have been postponed to 2023 due to public health and safety concerns, other public gatherings that were canceled in 2021 including the Venice Carnival, Mardi Gras, Coachella, and others came back with a bang in 2022.

The global events industry is expected to surpass a total market size of $2 trillion by 2028, up from just $890 billion in 2020 (Source). Events drive people movement which, in turn, drives consumer spending – meaning this is a strong recovery signal for the wide variety of businesses that have held on through tough periods of fluctuating, unpredictable levels of demand over the past two plus years.


In addition to pent-up demand, lifted travel restrictions in most markets are fueling a resurgence in travel demand that will see airline passenger numbers reach 83% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022 (Source).

It’s clear people want in-person experiences and live entertainment – however, the growing influx of event-driven people movement makes demand harder to predict. Historical data doesn't apply to the dynamic shifts in demand companies across the economy are seeing today. 

To further complicate matters, the continuing rise of digital privacy laws is turning targeted marketing into a strategic tactic of the past. To stay competitive in the face of global pandemics, changing demand patterns, and new advertising regulations, today's marketers need creative ways to reach their target audience – which is where occasion based marketing comes in. 

What is occasion based marketing?

In simple terms, it’s advertising in the right place, and at the right time. Occasion based marketing takes advantage of events, or occasions, to promote a brand to a target market. It shifts the focus away from the product, and onto what’s going on in customers’ lives and environments. 

You can’t target individuals as easily these days, but you can target occasions when people are most likely to buy your product or service. By creating an association in customers’ minds between an event or holiday with your brand, you can increase the likelihood of selling more during that occasion.

One example that demonstrates the power of occasion based marketing is consumer packaged goods, such as beverages and candies. Brands like Coca Cola have successfully implemented this strategy as far back as the 1930s. Their iconic Santa Claus campaign encouraged consumers to drink Coke even during the cold winter months – rather than only reaching for one as a way to cool down when it’s warm out. 

There are many associations people make based on successful occasion based marketing campaigns throughout history. Diamonds and love. Flowers and mothers. In modern times this strategy is used by industry leaders across the economy, whether it’s fast casual restaurants like Dominos selling more pizza and wings during televised sports games, or delivery apps like Uber Eats leveraging occasions to expand into event ticket sales

How to use occasion based marketing to increase ROI from your advertising

For example, let’s say you’re a consumer packaged goods company that wants to boost sales for potato chips. Use occasion based marketing to deploy innovative advertising at the right place, at the right time. For example, a large-scale sports event with high predicted attendance such as a baseball or football game. You could plan a number of occasion based marketing tactics to capture market share during the event:

  • Partner with venue to sponsor the event

  • Promotional stands filled with top-selling flavors 

  • Digital outdoor ads in and around the venue

  • Geo-targeted mobile advertising in and around the venue

  • TV ads that air during the live broadcast of the event

Or let’s say you’re a travel agency. You could choose one high-demand travel period of the year and create a campaign around it. For example, spring break is one occasion that influences travel demand, but varies by school, district, and state. With insight into exactly when spring break takes place in your target regions, and the ideal look to book ratio specific to this event. You can fine-tune the timing of your marketing campaign to reach spring breakers at the optimal time each year, gaining an upper hand on your competitors:

  • Deploy location based advertising targeting origin cities at the right time (when your look to book ratio is at its peak) with spring break destinations 

  • Incentivize or gamify campaign engagement with sweepstakes and prizes

  • Host on-campus college events, sponsorships, programs, or scholarships

  • Hire a celebrity spokesperson to promote your spring break travel promotion

  • Partner with event organizers in key destinations

  • Launch local promotions based on when schools are on break

In the short term, these strategies can boost sales and increase brand awareness during specific occasions that interest your target audience. In the long term, they help consumers begin to automatically associate your brand with certain events – just like chocolates and Valentine’s day.

Event visibility is key to making informed decisions around when and where to advertise

With insight into exactly which events impact your business, you can create marketing campaigns around relevant events weeks and months in advance. Make the most of every marketing opportunity by taking into account both large scale and lesser-known events impacting your store, restaurant, or hotel locations – including the events your competition has no idea about. There are also demand surges, caused by a cluster of events happening in the same location at the same time – which you can also leverage to get ahead of occasion or event-based marketing opportunities.

Upload any of your locations of interest today for free to see how events will be driving people movement and demand for each one of them. Learn more about how to use Location Insights for actionable insights, and sign up here to start tracking your locations.