Blog: Hot Products in the Summertime

Goose Island sample bus

New-product promotions from Goose Island take a nostalgic turn in this retro bus that doubles as a cool place to enjoy a pint.

I­ find products everywhere. Call it a hazard of the job; I have a knack.

I was at an outdoor music festival recently in Chicago. This particular festival attracts all ages. The music is eclectic, the people-watching fascinating and the temperature usually 100 degrees.

But this year it was balmy. It even rained a bit, calming the dust from the ­fields that usually play host to Chicago 16-inch softball games and family barbecues.

I stood in line to get in, holding my 6-year-old daughter Eleanor’s hand. She was one of the youngest music fans there. It’s safe to say the median age at this event falls squarely in the millennial generation.

After we handed the festival volunteers our tickets and submitted to our pat-down, a lovely lady handed Eleanor a bag of Crispy M&M’s. She was afraid to take them at ­first.

“For me?” she asked. “The whole bag?” Yes, indeed, the whole bag.

The first act had begun, and it was loud. I stopped to fit her with earplugs as young people walked by in a smoky vape haze and heavy boots not ­fit for summertime. They carried cans of Goose Island beer and snacked on Clif bars.

We walked further into the park, where Gen Zers, millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers alike sifted through stacks and rows of used vinyl. There, next to the treasure hunters, was a Perrier stand giving away samples of its new slim cans. Not far away was a stand sampling a new kefir product and a food truck handing out tastes of its new soft serve, smoothies and frozen treats. The Illinois Lottery even had a booth set up for folks who wanted to test their luck.

I thought we’d see booths from presidential candidates, but instead there was a wine installation from Iron Horse winery. Instead of rows and rows of band T-shirts, Whole Foods was set up next to Clif, Goose Island next to Eos water.

This event did not have a trade-show vibe. This is summer in Chicago, complete with smart, customer-direct marketing taken to the streets.

Marketers of products in your stores are upping their game. We spend a lot of time talking about how to appeal to younger demographics, and they’re actually out in the wild doing it, enduring loud music and sweltering, breezeless summers across the country to get their products—your products—out in front of those coveted customers. Hopefully, you’ll reap the rewards of their legwork by way of increased brand awareness. But better yet: How can you pick up this strategy and use it to market your own brand?

Summer’s short in Chicago, but the list of opportunities to take your brand to the streets is long and hot.