Living in a world that’s rich in culture is a cause for celebration. Embracing your community and celebrating culture together also makes great business sense. Whether you’re a new creator or you’re looking for new retail event ideas, cultural events like live performances or educational experiences can help you attract new customers, build relationships with your local community, and have a lot of fun.
Customers want to feel connected to your business, and events can lend personality to your brand and show how your products integrate into customers’ lives. Ask yourself: what value does your business have to those you want to attract? What will motivate them to buy your product? Your retail event ideas and virtual and in-store event marketing strategies need to align with these values. Find out as much as you can about your potential customers and what’s important to them. Getting to know your local and virtual communities is the best way to convert them into customers.
The importance of celebrating culture
Celebrating culture lets your business show its personal side and makes people feel they belong in your store. Here are a few reasons why all retailers should be hosting cultural events and bringing art, music, and food experiences onto the retail sales floor:
- It expands your market. Online cultural events are a brilliant way to extend your geographical reach. Providing a fast and efficient service for virtual attendees ensures no one is excluded. Focusing the event around specific themes means people are more likely to share information with their families and friends. You could end up with a whole new fan base that had not previously resonated with your business.
- It builds community. One of the most beneficial elements of retail cultural events is that they help unite people. Involving and engaging people brings them together and builds community. If your event can achieve that, people will view your business positively and come back for more.
- It increases foot traffic. To get customers spending, you need to get them through the door—be that in person or virtually. Retail cultural events are an excellent way to make your business look more interesting. People may not have previously identified with the cultural aspects of your event, but make it attractive enough and they will be drawn in.
- It showcases your brand. The best retail event ideas are about showcasing your brand. Include a cultural angle, and you’re adding another string to your bow. You may even learn about new uses for your products or new ways in which they meet the needs of your customers. Like-minded consumers can strengthen affinity to your brand.
- You can support local businesses. Since the onset of COVID-19, many community businesses have increasingly supported each other. Maybe you know of a local business that already has good links with a community that would be interested in your product. Finding another business that can share the load and mutually reap the benefits is a win-win situation.
- It’s attractive to sponsors. Partnering with a sponsor makes a lot of sense. They can support with advertising and promotion, and in return, you can help raise their profile. A pop-up store event or book store events are just a couple of ways in which sponsors can get on board. Look for sponsors who make sense to your brand, resonate with your customers, and already have a strong following.
The intersection of community and culture
Finding event opportunities where community meets culture is a great way to expand your reach and foster connection. The Last Bookstore, in Los Angeles, has used cultural events as a way to connect to the local community for years. They’ve hosted Spanish-language events, Queer Book Club, AfroFuturism book club, and more. By tuning into their community’s cultural interests, they’ve attracted a loyal following of event-goers who come into their store to learn, socialize, and shop.
On the East Coast, New York legend Murray’s Cheese has found the perfect intersection of community and foodie culture. They’ve been offering classes and experiences to their cheese-loving community for over 15 years, with both in-person and virtual events. Classes like Cheese 101 explore different cheeses, methods, and cuisines, which gets customers curious about their brand—and craving more cheese.
Inspirational retail event ideas
There are many excellent ideas out there for cultural events. The key is to design an event with your customers’ interests and background in mind. Whether you’re planning Black cultural events featuring Black-owned businesses, an event for expats living in your community, or events to attract new parents, your ideas need to be adapted to suit your market. One of the exciting benefits of hosting cultural events in your retail space is the increased opportunity for organic marketing. Consider expanding your reach within your community by collaborating with and amplifying voices aside from your own! Hosting an event focused on dance? Teach the tango and bring on a Latinx dance instructor for a fun angle and an expert’s guidance.
When thinking about who you’re aiming your event at, it can help to ask yourself a few questions. What community am I trying to reach? What are our shared beliefs, interests, or hobbies? Do people live locally, regionally, nationally? How old are they? Are they defined by demographics such as gender, sexuality, or ethnicity? Are there any challenges I will need to overcome to make my event accessible and welcoming? Draw up a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Now you’re ready to get creative, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Food sampling events
These are always popular. Focus on high-quality samples, great visuals, and a fun atmosphere. Have lots of tasty samples that tie in beautifully with your theme. For virtual attendees, send out the recipe and ingredient lists so they get the same experience. Finding the right person to give a demonstration is important, too. Bring in a chef for a cooking workshop centered around an upcoming holiday so guests can learn something timely.
Take inspiration from HGS Home Chef and cookbook author Kian Lam Kho, whose teachings on traditional Chinese dishes offered an immersive and delicious way for guests to learn about Lunar New Year. The real benefit of an event like this is you can promote your products, keep people engaged and entertained, and provide a memorable experience.
Similar to the food sampling events, drink and cocktail-making classes go down well with many crowds. Think wine tasting, mixology, or artisan gin sampling. But it doesn’t all have to be about alcohol. Why not choose smoothies, health drinks, or flavored teas? Again, involve virtual attendees with recipe lists and ingredients, and connect your event to products and services you provide in-store.
Crafts have long been a pillar of community building and cultural expression. Go down the traditional route with knitting, basket weaving, or homemade cards, or bring in local artists to talk about origami, henna designs, or scented candles. As always, provide your virtual guests with everything they need to join in and, if possible, recruit a local expert to lend a hand. People love learning a new skill, and it gives you something to build on in future events.
Book club or author reading
Books are the perfect medium to bring people together. Chosen carefully, they can not only promote your business but help people feel connected. Choose themes and authors that interest your audience. Some people will come for the cultural element of your event, and others because they like the author. Advertise through community newsletters and groups to generate lots of interest. Providing drinks and snacks that complement your theme can be an enticing addition. A plate of tapas or glass of sangría with a book about Spain? Perfect.
Basing your event around holidays or festivals can give it context. Whether it’s Ramadan, Eid, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Black History Month, or Christmas, focus on your customer and your brand. Cultural festivals are steeped in tradition, which can make it easier when thinking about food, drink, and decorations. Involve community leaders and prominent local figures in the programming to offer more to your attendees.
Makeup classes and DIY
If you sell beauty or skincare products, makeup demonstrations are a great way to showcase your brands and help your customer feel empowered to use them. Invite other local businesses like beauticians or hairstylists to come onboard. Make sure that there are multiple stations available that are clean and sanitary. Create an atmosphere for learning—and playing—so that customers who may be shy with makeup feel invited to experiment and walk away with a new trick or an unexpected favorite color. Plan an event that aligns with your products but doesn’t push them. No hard sell makes your customers feel comfortable and positive about your business.
Product launch party
If you have a product that particularly suits a cultural event or celebration, why not throw a launch party? Put up decorations and posters and create a buzz. The benefit of enticing people through the door with freebies, drinks, or snacks is that once they are in, you get to showcase your other products too.
Start planning your retail cultural event now
For your business to be successful, you need to have a strong relationship with your existing customers while finding new and innovative ways to expand your customer base. That means identifying and meeting the needs of not just those who walk through the door but also those who interact with you online. The key is to find exciting ways to get people engaged while keeping them safe.
Celebrating culture and what makes your product interesting is a wonderful way of making your business stand out. Adopting this community angle can raise your visibility and give you a clear focal point for your event. Connecting with existing customers, and gaining the allegiance of new customers, ensures you have raving fans of your business ready to spread the word.
Eventbrite can help you plan your event and sell tickets. Use our full suite of tools, tips, and resources to create the perfect cultural event, giving you the time to focus on bringing communities together.