A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a far cry from the latest trend in retail promotions, a GNO — which stands for Girls Night Out.  There is one thing that they have in common, however, and that is that a GNO almost always includes the opportunity to achieve a (slightly) modified mental state through the imbibing of wine or other alcoholic beverages.

Would a GNO (or LNO, which stands for Ladies Night Out) be a good way to draw shoppers to your store, or business district?  If your target market includes women, especially younger women, it may be worth a try.  The key to the success with this type of social shopping event is to make it very attractive to friends who might want an evening out together.

In addition to wine, beer or cocktails, and of course food of some kind, you’ll want to offer at least a few of the following:

  • an opportunity for an exclusive look at products through fashion modeling or a trunk show
  • a discount on certain products only available during the event
  • demonstrations, food sampling or a book signing
  • chair massages, manicures or other pampering
  • complimentary gift wrapping
  • goodie bags with free gifts
  • wine tasting by a local winery
  • live music
  • late or exclusive shopping hours
  • a crafting opportunity
  • a chance to win a door prize

Your vendors may be able to help with a trunk show, product demonstrations and giveaways for the goodie bags. Talk to your sales reps well in advance of your event to see if they are interested in participating.

Communities or shopping centers that go together to sponsor a Girls Night Out will sometimes have a passport listing the participating businesses and their offers, and give the first guests to sign up a special gift. Consider having your event benefit a charity, with a small entrance fee going to the non-profit. Another option would be to have 10% of sales go to the group.

Social media is perfect for promoting a social event like this, but you may have to do some special outreach if you are trying to attract women who are not already customers.  Partnering with a local magazine or club could help, and certainly working with a non-profit that promises to invite its supporters is a good idea.  Holding the event during a time of year when people are out shopping makes it more likely to succeed — so perhaps this holiday season would be the perfect time to role out your first GNO.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder 

PS Be sure to check local regulations that cover serving liquor, and limit the amount offered to each guest (especially if more than one store is involved).