Member Exclusive   //   September 7, 2023

Research Briefing: Brands prepare for seasonal product launches to drive sales

By Li Lu

Welcome to the Modern Retail+ Research Briefing, your weekly curation of retail, technology and marketing research insights. As a member, you have full access to the Modern Retail+ Research below. 

In this edition, we share focal points from Modern Retail’s report on limited-edition product launches.

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35% of product launches were seasonal releases

Fall is around the corner and that means it’s time for companies to (re)release autumnal items to get consumers in the spirit. For brands like P.F. Candle Company, this key time is known as “candle season.” During “candle season,” which coincides with the fourth quarter of the year, the brand generates as much as 45% of its annual sales

P.F. Candle is not alone in this. The National Candle Association says about 35% of all candle sales occur during the Christmas and holiday season. And other industries also see a similar lift in sales during fall and winter. In Modern Retail+ Research’s previous report on limited edition CPG product launches, seasonal product launches were one of the top categories accounting for 35% of launches for companies. 

Defined as seasonal (re)launches, the strategy focuses on flavors and colors that spark nostalgia or warm and tender feelings toward a holiday or time of year. The most notorious example is pumpkin spice fall-flavored desserts. These seasonal (re)launches focus on generating revenue rather than buzz. The products often have a cyclical nature, relaunching every year – albeit with alterations to keep them current. Because of this, consumers can come to expect and anticipate them.

According to Modern Retail+ Research’s findings, several key ingredients indicated the shift in seasons. “Pumpkin Spice” had a spike in Google search volume starting as early as August. That declined moving into December, when “Hot Chocolate” and “Peppermint” picked up the pace. 

However, shoppers often purchase before the fall season officially starts. Many start stocking up on products in August.  “I think Starbucks kind of showed the way for a lot of brands in terms of just the pumpkin spice craze,” said Carl Henrickson, vp of marketing at Enviroscent, a fragrance brand that specializes in non-toxic air fresheners. “One thing we’ve learned is with every season people are ready for the next season before it comes. You almost can’t go too early.”

As temperatures start to go down, brands need to have a plan to maximize Q4 sales. Be it through seasonal product launches or specific promotions centered around the time period, Q4 sales account for large portions of annual revenue. And, with companies launching products earlier and shoppers starting holiday planning as early as August, fall products can be sold for longer and marketed heavier than before.

Key findings:

  • Seasonal sales and product launches can account for large portions of annual revenue for certain industries. The National Candle Association says about 35% of all candle sales occur during the Christmas and holiday season.
  • Fall and winter seasonal products have cyclical (re)launches, but the timing has shifted earlier as the years go on, as early as August. With an earlier launch, products can be sold for a longer period of time, extending the time that companies can capitalize on a season. 


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