Laura Payne, Group Client Director at Nectar360, uncovers the key to unlocking the power of retail activations for lasting brand impact

The festive season is now in full swing, with Halloween and Fireworks night behind us and Christmas just around the corner – and it’s a time where brands are, quite rightly, heavily involved in retail activations. 

Throughout the year, retail activations provide a means for brands to leverage events and key moments to boost sales and strengthen connections with customers. Done well, they are the perfect way for brands to offer more than just low prices, providing added value that goes beyond the immediate purchase. When well-executed, retail activations can leave a lasting impression on consumers, even after they’ve completed their purchase.

To be successful, activations need to strike a chord with the customer, aligning with their interests, values, and needs. If an activation doesn’t resonate with its target audience, it won’t have the desired result for the brand or the retailer. So it is essential that they are eye-catching, and that they connect with key dates and events that are going to get your customers talking.

Our Activation Highlights of 2023

At Nectar360 and Sainsbury’s over the past year, we’ve landed some great activations, so in this blog I wanted to highlight some of my absolute favourites:

Halloween: This year’s Halloween brought forth an array of exciting activations, both in stores and online. A significant focus naturally revolved around sweets and treats, and brands such as Cadbury, Walkers and Haribo took part with creative, themed offerings.

We also made sure to cater to a broader audience, crafting unique activations designed to entice slightly older customers who were either hosting Halloween parties or planning a spooky movie night in. 

But the sweet spot that really hit with this year’s Halloween activations was the perfect alignment of in-store and online execution to bring an omni-channel feel for customers. That helps a campaign feel well-rounded and ensures that we’re targeting the right customers from every angle.

Sainsbury’s Drinks Festival 2023: This summer we took on a drinks festival-themed activation. This offering set us with the task of pulling together space, brands and offers to really get our customers hooked. Learning from the 2022 campaign, we tweaked the line-up, slightly increasing the space allocated to fully branded bays, and then optimising the remaining multi-branded mission-led bays. This created a combination of summer creative aligned blocks of activity.

Not only did it perform while the activation was underway but it led to an average uplift of 44% across all themed bays and continued to have a positive impact after the campaign had ended – a sign of a truly successful activation.


Valentine’s Day: Valentine’s Day is another pivotal event when activations truly shine. One of this year’s Valentine’s Day campaigns, “Celebrate your love this Valentine’s Day”, in partnership with Cadbury, hammered home the effectiveness of activations in retail, attracting an additional 16,000 customers who hadn’t made a purchase in the last year and driving a 15% increase in spending for Cadbury.

Easter: Cadbury struck again at Easter this year with the Cadbury Easter large egg activation bay. This bay not only achieved a spending boost of 20%, but it also had a domino effect through the entire aisle, resulting in an impressive 24% increase in spend. This activation proved to be a great success, spotlighting Cadbury’s imaginative “Worldwide Hide” creative. We can’t wait to see where we can take this campaign next year.

Seasonal Showcases

When it comes to selecting activations, it’s not only about the major seasonal events, but also keeping updated on emerging trends.

For example, when the recent Barbie movie took the world by storm, in conjunction with Mattel we crafted our very own Barbie-themed activation in stores to prominently highlight our range of Barbie products and capitalise on the craze while it was at its peak.

Likewise, as the Lionesses advanced to the finals of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Budweiser’s “Raise for England” activation took centre stage in our stores. Being the official beer of the competition, this initiative resonated with customers by aligning their interests in football, patriotism and the event itself – not only supporting the World Cup but giving a boost to Budweiser sales in our stores.

What’s to come?

Both key seasonal events and moments in time that are important for customers through the course of the year offer fantastic opportunities for brands.  Finding that sweet spot where retailers and brands can come together is key, but always with the customer in mind, after all if it doesn’t engage and work for the customer it won’t work for the brand or the retailer.  These are just a few examples of the activations we’ve seen this year, and we’re excited about what’s in store for next year. In 2024, there are fantastic opportunities for brands to make an impact during key events such as the UEFA men’s Euros, Wimbledon, the Olympics and Paralympics.

We have plenty more examples of how activations work both in-store and online – head to to check out some of our other campaigns. 

Laura Payne

Group Client Director

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