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Behind the door of beauty advent calendars

Hands up if you’ve ever had a chocolate advent calendar? Nearly everyone, right?

Now put your hands up if you’ve had an advent calendar that had alternative contents. There are so many different options on the market now, from beauty to beer or even cheese (I’ve had one of these – it was great).

While your chocolate calendars are going to set you back around £10 maximum, the other options start to increase your spend (up to £320 if you want the Jo Malone beauty one) – but they also increase your return. Especially if you’re not a fan of Bountys…

(Fantastic marketing by Mars might I add)

The numbers

Here at Relish, we have produced beauty calendars for the last five years and while it’s worthwhile come the 1st December, it’s a much longer process than meets the eye.

Even now, writing this it’s the 21st August and already retailers and brands are launching calendars for pre-order:

There are so many options on the market now, but the demand is huge because as a customer the value for money is fantastic. Last year at Relish, we commissioned some research via YouGov, to dive a little deeper into the calendar buying habits of consumers. Here are some of the top statistics that we found:

  • 18-24 year olds account for 28% of those spending more than £60 a month (on average) on beauty products. They account for 14% of the nat-rep population, meaning they are twice as likely to spend over £60 than the average person.
  • 74% of males who had purchased calendars had bought the calendar for someone else. This is only 40% for females, but still shows that gifting is a high purchase reason for this product.
  • 35% of consumers bought the calendar off the back of advertising they had seen by a retailer
  • Value for money, contents, and price were the three highest factors in consumer’s buying choice. Interestingly 51% of females chose contents compared to just 24% of males.
  • At 8% (excluding ‘other’ and ‘n/a’ options), environmentally friendly products and packaging was the lowest selection. 13% of males selected this option compared to 6% of females.
  • 88% of consumers kept at least some of the products for themselves, with only 8% gifting all of them to friends and family.
  • 50% of consumers have repurchased a product received in a calendar. 46% of these repurchases came from the same retailer that they bought the calendar from.

The process

SO. It’s September 2020 and calendars are going on sale ready for the majority (well, those who can wait) to open them in December. But when does the process actually start?

For us, our first emails and meetings for the 2020 calendar were back in April 2019. A whole 20 months prior to the month dedicated to Advent! Within that time we are planning concepts, speaking with brands, producing calendars and arranging deliveries.

The reason for this is because each brand has a different lead time for products, we need to negotiate which product will be best to feature, work out door sizing, ensure everything fits, isn’t too large and most importantly – stick to budgets!

Half the time is then spent ironing out issues! Small things that don’t get seen when opening your calendars such as: What if a brand delivers a product different in size to what was previously provided? Each door is created specifically around the product and so any change can impact the entire calendar. This has happened on multiple occasions and being able to come up with quick, but practical solutions is just part of the process.

This year (but not uncommon in others) we have had multiple changes to line-up, meaning we have changed ‘doors’ around mid-way through which has meant the calendar completion was much later than planned. This year especially has been particularly challenging, for the obvious reasons, but when a timeline that is usually already pressed come February, has ports and shipping shut down for three months, it does make it that bit harder to maintain end delivery dates.

To put this into perspective, below is a number representation of just some of the work that is required with the print and fulfilment team:

  • 235 print quotes provided
  • 85 critical path version and amends
  • 98 code checks to confirm final and most cost effective shipping codes for the distribution routes
  • 159 different technical drawings
  • 9 million – the estimated number of items produced and handled

And that’s just 2020’s calendar!

Through all of this, the calendar is still due to go live on time and, although this may be bias, it will be the best one yet!

If you have any questions on calendars, or just want to have a chat about them, then please do not hesitate to reach out to me via LinkedIn, or click here! Now go buy one…

- Alex Bates (08/09/2020)


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