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Dry January: unhealthy for business?

January, home to the most depressing day of the year, is a time for cutting back, being good and exercising more. But what does that mean for businesses and what is the best way to cope with changing customer behaviour?

And it’s not just January that we need to worry about – the rest of the year comes with its own ups and downs, depending on what type of business you run. Innovative incentives and smart marketing are the key here.

Breweries and bars

With Dry January traditionally being a time many people give up drinking entirely, pubs, bars and breweries struggle to attract business. Ways that they have weathered the storm include focusing on different products, such as food, or entertainment. The #Tryanuary movement encourages support for independent beer businesses, and for those involved to share their discoveries with other people throughout January. Joining together with other businesses to advertise group events is a great way to attract new customers and even offer better deals as they’ll be more of you covering the costs of marketing and logistics.


Contrary to the bars and pubs, gyms are full in January. It’s well known that a flurry of applications are made at gyms at the beginning of the year, with people keen to shift their Christmas excesses and kick start a healthier lifestyle. But how do gyms differentiate themselves as the one to go for when everyone is looking? Unique (and convenient) offers win out. From Better Gym’s no joining fee for the whole of January, to the yet-to-open Victoria Gymbox promising £100 savings for those who become founding members before it launches, there’s a deal to suit every budget.


Another business area affected by behavioural trends at the beginning of the year is the restaurant industry. As well as eating healthier, people are looking to stay in and save money as far as possible. But there is a point where 15 consecutive nights of Netflix gets boring. Restaurants understand this and are therefore positioning themselves with deals to match, from half price meals at Meat Liquor to Yo Sushi’s Happy Month, reducing your prices is a great way to tempt customers back. Creative marketing works too. For example, Mexican chain Wahaca have framed their deal with a Spoon Amnesty, where everyone who returns a spoon from the 25,000 they’ve ‘lost’, gets free tacos. No questions asked.


Travel agents and airlines also react to customer sentiment during January. People want to get away from the cold and look forward to something – cue a rush on booking sunny holidays at the beginning of the year. British Airways for example, have their ‘World is on Sale’ event running until the beginning of February. Hooking your offers into how people are feeling is a great way to encourage people to use your business when they’re unsure about a purchase. Plan your reductions based on your figures from last year, and you’ll be able to offer your customers the deal they want.

No matter what time of year it is, there are bound to be business ups and downs. The trick is anticipating them as far as possible, and getting creative when it comes to the deals you offer your customers.

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