5 Tips That Will Ensure Your Business Beats the January Slump

Nadav Shemer
January Slump
Dry January isn’t only a public health campaign to encourage people to abstain from alcohol for a month. It could also be a metaphor for the slump suffered by many retailers as consumers cut back on spending in the new year.

On average, U.S. consumer spending drops 16% from December to January, according to Gallup data from the past decade. Unless you sell gym gear, yoga mats, or anything else typically associated with New Year’s resolutions, then your online business could be vulnerable to the January slump.

As an online business owner, you have basically 2 choices this January: let the trend take its course; or be proactive. We’re here to talk about some of the proactive steps you can take to steer your online business through the January slump.

1. Tap Into Themes of Renewal

December is associated with holidays and spending time with loved ones. January is known for self-reflection and New Year’s resolutions. According to surveys, 60% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in January, although only 8% are successful in keeping them. 

The 10 most common resolutions are:

  1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
  2. Exercise more (65%)
  3. Lose weight (54%)
  4. Save more and spend less (32%)
  5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26%)
  6. Quit smoking (21%)
  7. Read more (17%)
  8. Find another job (16%)
  9. Drink less alcohol (15%)
  10. Spend more time with family and friends (13%)

You don’t have to be in the business of selling gym gear or weight-loss plans to help consumers with their New Year’s resolutions. Anything that can tap into broader themes of renewal will do, such as self-fulfilment, stressing less, or treating oneself. For a good example, of new year’s marketing, we can look to Amazon’s monthly book deals. Ever January, its deals are dominated by books on self-improvement. 

2. Leverage January Themes

Given its associations with renewal, it’s not surprising January has become the month for initiatives like Dry January and Veganuary. Both of these started out as public health initiatives in the UK and have recently started drawing attention in the United States. You might have products that are compatible with going dry (abstaining from alcohol) or vegan (abstaining from consumption of animal-derived products, such as meat, dairy, and eggs).

The above are just examples, of course. Any month-long (or day-long, or week-long) initiative with a mass following presents a business opportunity. If you find a January initiative compatible with whatever you’re selling, then why not market your product accordingly?

3. Cross-Sell to Holiday Customers

We all know about up-selling and cross-selling, techniques retailers use to get customers to purchase complementary products or upgrades. So how about viewing January as a time to cross-sell to your December customers?

The holidays aren’t only a time to make sales; they are also a time to expand your customer database. January is the time to tap into your CRM (customer relationship management) tools and cross-sell to all your newly acquired customers. You may also want to create a wish-list tool for customers who’d like to buy additional products but need a bit of time to pay off all their credit card purchases from the previous year.

4. Engage Your Customers

Customers may not be in the mood to buy stuff in January, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them. In fact, January is the perfect time to engage your growing customer base, given that the holiday craziness is over and people have a bit more time to themselves.

People give and receive gifts in December, but January is the time when they are able to sit back and actually enjoy their new things. That also makes January a good time to engage your customers with a newsletter or request for online reviews. January is 10-11 months away from the next holiday shopping period, which makes it as good a time as any to start building your relationship with customers.

5. Out With the Old, in With the New

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it applies just as well to ecommerce as it does to traditional retailers. Most businesses have stock they can’t get rid of during the holidays, so why not sell it at a discounted rate? Remember: the fourth-most popular New Year’s resolution is saving more and spending less. People might be less inclined to spend money in January, but few can resist a good discount.

Next, once you’ve cleared out all that old stock, it’s time to seize on the January renewal theme by bringing in fresh products and services to sell.

Finally, Make January Your Time of Renewal

Being a business owner doesn’t make you any different from other people, and you need time for renewal too. If January is typically a quiet month for your business, then why not use all that spare time to plan/budget for the new year or use a top ecommerce builder to give your website that overhaul you’ve been dreaming about?

Never forget the big picture. January is only 1/12th of the year. Use it to plan for the year ahead, and you can make the remaining 11/12th a success.

Nadav Shemer
Nadav Shemer specializes in business, tech, and energy, with a background in financial journalism, hi-tech and startups. He enjoys writing about the latest innovations in financial services and products.