Some seasons you’re aware of. There are the natural seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall. There are the event-driven seasons: holiday season, summer vacation season, back-to-school season. Some people even set their internal clock by what sports season it is. But what you may not realize is that there’s also a consumer season. Sure, you’re exposed to (some might say “bombarded with”) consumer messaging all year long, but there’s a targetable season during which your consumer activity, and those of the marketers and media advertising at you, is at its peak. If you’re aware of consumer season, then you’ll be better armed to identify it and combat it!

When is Consumer Season?

Consumer season, as we define it, runs from early-to-mid August through late February. It begins with the back-to-school rush. Advertisers know that both parents and children will have allocated budgets and be “ready to shop” and they want to take advantage of that. The back-to-school shopping push occurs from August until September, and includes incentives for Labor Day shopping. But retailers are in luck, because a continual push to move holiday shopping up earlier and earlier in the year means that the holiday shopping season then begins almost immediately in October and lasts for three months. In January, retailers take advantage of holiday money to incentivize early year discount sales and then “wrap up the season” with Valentine’s Day consumerism in February.

“Well, That Makes Sense. That’s When Shopping Events Are.”

We’ll overlook the fact that the hypothetical person asking the question above used the term “shopping events!” It is true that there are distinct events in that time range that may require or encourage some shopping. But we all know that holiday shopping season isn’t three-months long and that January clearance sales aren’t really “an event.” The reason that consumer season occurs during these months has as much to do with social behavior as it does with the calendar year.

People Are Inside More: During the fall and winter months, people are home and inside more. They watch more TV, spend more time online and, for at least part of that time, are actively thinking about things they may want or need to purchase for the holidays. All of that decreased activity and increased media time means that individuals are more susceptible to media consumer and marketing messages.

Your Kids are in School: Why does it matter that your kids are in school during this time frame? Because when kids are in school, they’re more exposed to and influenced by peers and what trends their peers are following. This, we all know, is true for just about every age group.

You Have More Disposable Income: A more accurate way to say this is that you have more disposable shopping income. During the summer, budgets are often set for things like travel or vacations, home upgrades or repairs or even cultural events and summer concerts. During the fall and winter months, most of those activities are on hold or not as frequent, so the average person has more money for “stuff.”

As you can see, it’s really not a mistake that you encounter and perhaps respond to more consumer and media messaging in the fall and winter months. It’s intentional. And while it may seem as though your average marketer is incredibly busy during the retail-heavy months, that’s essentially not true. Most marketing executives and agencies are the busiest during the summer months, when they strategically plan how to leverage “consumer season.”

What Can You Do to Avoid Being a Slave to Consumer Season?

The most obvious answer is that knowledge is power! Now that you understand that consumer season exists and that it is, in fact, targeted at you, you can fight back. Avoid media and take the time to think through purchases to decide if it’s an item you really need or if you’re simply being persuaded by seasonal media!

Have a fact about consumer season that we missed? Tell us about it. Comment below or tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

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Related Information

All About the Consumer Media

Tips for Avoiding Black Friday and Holiday Over-Shopping

Tips for Combatting Valentine’s Day Consumer Season

Photo Credit: {aamy} via Flickr