Contest Marketing

If you’re a New Yorker or know anything about the Big Apple, then you’re well aware that when it comes to snatching up an apartment the struggle is all too real. With rent prices 30% higher than they were pre-pandemic, apartment seekers are feeling the burn.

But what if there was a way to secure a NYC apartment and have the rent paid for an entire year? Now we’ve got your attention, right? Well, that’s what Skittles is doing for one lucky renter to promote their new product and they’re calling it Skittles Littles Living.

With the help of a solid contest marketing strategy, Skittles is using the contest to drive its newest sweet innovation—Skittles Littles.

The brand new Skittles Littles | Skittles

But what’s the contest all about?

It’s pretty simple. If you’re 18 and older and living in the U.S., you’re eligible to participate. Enter the Skittles sweepstakes before 21 May 2024 and if you win you can be the proud owner of a 353-square-foot Skittles Littles Living apartment located in Manhattan. The apartment will be one of many in Manhattan’s first micro-unit apartment building and be furnished with Wi-Fi, a thermostat, a bed that doubles as a wall, a weekly housekeeping service, a fully stocked (and re-stocked) bathroom with Malin & Goetz—a high-end apothecary brand—, and a multi-purpose room.

And the interior? Well, the candy manufacturer stuck to its whimsical roots. The goal wasn’t just to give away an apartment. It was also to make it a nostalgic experience for older consumers who enjoyed the candy when they were young while also appealing to Gen Zers. 

Keeping this in mind, the space was designed by interior decorator Dani Klarić with Skittles-themed decor. So expect an explosion of colors that will turn heads.

Skittles Littles Living apartment featuring interior designer Dani Klarić  | PR Newswire

Why a NYC apartment instead of some free Skittles merch or products?

If you’re trying to rebrand something like Skittles, one of the most popular candy brands around, then it needs to be something worthy of what it represents in the market. The payoff for the fans or entrants of the sweepstakes needs to be something that matches the impact that Skittles wants to make and we’re betting that giving away a few t-shirts or a free supply of candy isn’t going to get anyone excited.

Their solution? A NYC apartment. With the rent in NYC averaging around $4000 per month, it’s not the most affordable of cities, but who amongst us wouldn’t want to live there if we had the means? Plus, giving away a micro-apartment is kind of on-brand for a brand promoting a product called ‘Skittles Littles.’

So there’s your first marketing lesson. Contest marketing isn’t just about giving away something as part of a rebranding campaign. You need to make it memorable and connect with your brand. Skittles promoting their newer, smaller version of the popular candy by giving away a micro-apartment that’s decorated with Skittles colors? We’re going to call this a win!

What other ways does Skittles make its mark in contest marketing?

Skittles isn’t just making an impact with their sweepstakes, they’re using their marketing strategy to make long-term connections and experiences. Here are a few areas that marketers can look into if a marketing campaign created around a giveaway is something you’re interested in pursuing.

Nailing engagement marketing

Giving away a NYC apartment with a year’s rent paid is a great way to entice New Yorkers or wannabe New Yorkers around the U.S. to enter the sweepstakes. But what about people living outside of the U.S. or those who don’t necessarily want to win the apartment but be a part of the promotion? (because let’s face it, there are different demographics with different preferences)

That’s where the social media element comes into play. Skittles is encouraging people to participate by sending in their own small space living tips and ideas on X, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtag #LittlesLiving and tagging @Skittles.

The lesson here is that your contest marketing strategy may be something of great value but that doesn’t mean that everyone has the luxury to enjoy it. Keeping your options open with other engaging activities can get everyone excited about your brand and get the word out about any brand changes, product or service launches, and more.

Giving the consumer something they need 

If you want to create a buzz around your brand or product launch, it has to be something that adds a lot of value to your end consumer. We said earlier that giving away branded t-shirts or a lifetime supply of Skittles isn’t that memorable because everyone does it—boring!

The biggest selling point in the entire contest marketing strategy that Skittles is using is the NYC apartment and free rent. Who wouldn’t want to live in the Big Apple in a brand new fully decorated apartment and have the rent paid for a month? The value that the brand adds to whoever ends up winning the contest is huge.

So the lesson here is to create value for the consumer by giving them something memorable and something of value. Consider your target market. What do they really want? What can get them excited about your brand? How can you get the maximum number of people interested in what you’re offering? How can you tie it in with your brand?

Think about all these factors before finalizing a strategy. The days of cheap and quick giveaways are gone. Brands need to focus on creating more value and making a long-term impact on the lives of their consumers.

Don’t forget about brand association!

Your giveaway or contest marketing strategy means nothing if your audience won’t remember you a month or two after the contest is over. This is why Skittles associated itself with the unique experience of living in a rent-free micro-apartment to help them create a positive association with the Mars, Incorporated brand.

Think about it. When was the last time you heard of a NYC apartment being given away with a year’s rent paid? It’s such a novel and aspirational experience that it taps into the consumer’s excitement while also aligning perfectly with the brand’s image.

It also deals with a very real problem that many New Yorkers and Americans in general have which is the rising cost of living. An apartment and free rent is something that can be life-changing for many people and when offering something different in a crowded market, it makes it more than just another run-of-the-mill giveaway—it’s an experience that impacts someone in the long term.

To put it bluntly, a micro-apartment doesn’t just solidify Skittles’ brand identity. It makes it a great way to differentiate from other brands and help consumer engagement skyrocket.

The Skittles Littles marketing strategy ain’t so little—so yours shouldn’t be either

Giveaways have a 34% conversion rate. Let that sink in if you’re not a believer in a good old marketing strategy that includes contests and giveaways.

There’s a lot of potential for a runaway marketing success by offering consumers a unique experience that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s a great opportunity to strengthen your brand identity and also create a lasting positive association between your brand and your consumers.

Today there’s so much happening and there are a lot of avenues that you can explore to connect with your audiences. Take a page from Skittles. They didn’t go with generic giveaways or contests. They thought outside of the box to give one lucky fan the chance to change their life while creating a buzz around their brand.

So if you’re racking your brain thinking about how you can do something different that will bring consumers to your brand in droves, then it may be wise to take a page out of the Skittles playbook.


What types of contests work best for marketing purposes?

Try to think of contests that give consumers something that they genuinely want to win. Pick something that perfectly aligns with your brand identity and requires participants to take action whether it’s signing up for newsletters, sharing social media posts, creating user-generated content, or anything that fits your marketing style and can help achieve your marketing goals.

How can businesses promote their contests effectively?

If you want to get the most out of your contest promotions then you need to use multiple marketing channels like website banners, social media, newsletters, and even paid advertising. You will need to create compelling visuals, clear instructions, and a sense of urgency to encourage fans and consumers to participate.

Why is contest marketing effective?

Contest marketing is effective because it creates excitement and gives incentives for consumers to interact with your brand. It can also encourage user-generated content, increase social media engagement, and attract new customers.