Holiday Sales Sprint   //   December 21, 2023  ■  4 min read

To gin up holiday sales, CPG brands are positioning themselves as non-traditional stocking stuffers

CPG brands are looking to convince people to consider stuffing pantry staples in their Christmas stockings. 

Baking goods company Supernatural rolled out marketing emails to its shoppers suggesting how its sprinkles would make great stocking stuffers for people that like to bake. Thanks to its strategy, Supernatural was able to sell 60,000 sprinkles over the past six weeks compared to 40,000 around the same time last year. Gimme Seaweed, an organic roasted seaweed snack brand, has also invested in marketing emails as well as influencer marketing campaigns to recommend its grab-and-go seaweed snack product line as stocking stuffers.

As the name suggests, stocking stuffers are traditionally small gifts that fit inside Christmas stockings. Candies, mini beauty products and other small trinkets are traditionally some of the most popular stocking stuffers. This holiday, some pantry staples are beginning to bend the rules on what gets to be squeezed into a Christmas stocking.

There are some financial incentives to this marketing tactic. Calla Murphy, vp of digital strategy and integrated marketing at Belardi Wong, said that marketing products as stocking stuffers can help brands bring in new customers and encourage additional purchases. It can also be a way for brands to bump up their sales volume during the holiday season.

“They’re great order starters,” Murphy said. “It’s also a great way to move customers from a one time buyer to a two time buyer. So maybe they bought something from you in the past and they loved it and they want to find a more easy way to share [the brand] with a friend.”  

Carmel Hagen, CEO and founder of Supernatural, said that a lot of CPG companies don’t typically get a big sales lift during the fourth quarter, unlike other retail categories. By positioning its sprinkles as stocking stuffers, Hagen said, it would ideally help maximize customer traffic and expand Supernatural’s transaction sizes. Apart from sprinkles, Supernatural also sells products like food colors, frosting mix and baking chips.     

In its marketing email rolled out this month, Supernatural touted that its sprinkles were the “perfect stocking stuffer for bakers big and small.” Alongside the marketing message, the company also rolled out a $2 promotion to further entice shoppers to make a purchase. Supernatural’s sprinkles currently retails at $7.99 and its products are sold on its website, Amazon and grocery stores like Whole Foods. 

“People are coming to [your website] anyway at an increased rate and you’re trying to increase the cart size,” Hagen said. “It’s a great way to sort of expand the reach and the conversation with that customer that you’re having when they do spend time with you.” 

Hagen said that its marketing email this holiday season had a 38% open rate. She said that this indicates the interest that people have to use its products as stocking stuffers. Hagen said that she is open to the possibility of offering stocking stuffer sets next year.

Gimme Seaweed, on the other hand, said that it sees an opportunity in parents looking for healthier snack options to stuff into their kids’ Christmas stocking. The company has been posting content on social channels like Instagram about how their grab and go products could be ideal stocking stuffers. 

Diego Norris, chief marketing officer at Gimme Seaweed, said that it’s too soon to see how its marketing messaging could impact sales but the company typically sees a big bump in impressions when it rolls out these holiday campaigns. The company saw a 300% lift in impressions and at least a 150% lift in engagement when it unveiled a similar campaign last year.

This week, the company will also be rolling out marketing emails that will specifically focus on how its products could be stocking stuffers.

“The most popular stocking stuffer is traditionally candy,” Norris said. “What we found through our conversations with consumers is that parents are looking for better for you snacking options, but they want things that are kid approved.”

Gimme Seaweed and Supernatural aren’t the only CPG brands positioning their products as stocking stuffers. Ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage brand Horton Rum is also advertising its products as stocking stuffers on social media where it showed a short video of its cans being stuffed in a stocking. Meanwhile, Poppi collaborated with InnBeauty to release two limited-edition lip oils that it is now marketing as stocking stuffers

Belardi Wong’s Murphy said that because some people might not associate their products with more traditional stocking stuffers, these brands have to define themselves as giftable. “The risk is really about how well these brands can effectively market themselves.”