Jul 22, 2013
Bright. Bold. Luau.
Courtney Culey, Digital Engagement Editor

A party theme that is here to stay

Most things come and go, like bell-bottom jeans and denim jackets. In fact, people expect fashion and party trends to go through a cyclical motion. It’s almost inevitable – unless we’re talking about Luau, that is. Customers are never afraid to celebrate in Luau style.

And Luau isn’t just popular for college parties and backyard barbecues. Childhood birthday parties and high school graduation open houses offer prime Luau opportunities. Look for bright colors and tiki bars lining the room; every guest wearing a lei. Year after year, Luau acts as a go-to for party throwers everywhere.

Why has the theme survived? Perhaps it’s a good way to escape the cold winter months. Maybe it’s popular because everyone dreams of an island getaway. Either way, Luau theme parties are here to stay – for customers young and old.

A Lei for Any Occasion

Luau-themed parties seem like the obvious choice for spring and summer cookouts. The bold colors can be used to complement a sunny day and the vibrant patterns look even better when a grilled burger is spotted nearby. But that’s not all – other occasions are supporting the theme as well.

“The Luau party theme has broad appeal,” said Susan Beer, Amscan marketing director. “It’s perfect for any occasion including summer parties, weddings, graduations, birthdays and more. An entertaining vacation atmosphere can easily be created all year-round with the right Luau decorations, wearables, tableware and accessories.”

Because the theme can be transformed to fit any party, retailers should have a supply in stores 12 months out of the year.

“Luau parties are being held year-round as a way to brighten up the dreary winter months,” said Dawn Kirschner, Unique Industries creative director. “Retailers should always have a section in their store devoted to this theme.”

Why? Because customers demand a “feel-good” theme that provides fun and entertainment, and festive music, leis, grass skirts and a tiki bar all sound like a good time to me.

If you lack space for a plentiful and constant supply, keep an eye out for key selling opportunities. And pay attention to customer trends. Who’s buying? When are they buying? Which products are best sellers?

“The key time to have Luau products available is late spring through summer,” said Kacey Curry, associate communications manager at Creative Converting. “Retailers should keep a small assortment on hand throughout the year for other occasions, like birthday parties and for the customers who long for summer during fall and winter.”

Graduations, birthdays, weddings, weekend outings, you name it and Luau can be there. It’s fun, it’s colorful and the party host can never go wrong.

“Everyone looks forward to sipping on tropical drinks, wearing grass skirts and enjoying the warmer weather,” Curry said.

Tropical Trends

So what should you expect this year? It’s simple. Expect the usual. Why? Because Luau is Luau – it’s timeless. Don’t expect last year’s decor to be out of style, so keep old decor on the shelves and don’t be afraid to stock up, especially if it meets your customer’s needs.

“Since Luau is such a classic theme, it’s stayed pretty consistent,” Curry said. “It has always had bold, bright colors with beachy designs, tropical drinks, sunsets and hibiscus flowers.”

This year isn’t any different. Bright colors are dominating the scene and traditional Luau designs are everywhere. Look for hot pink, lime green, yellow, orange and teal decor. Flamingo and hibiscus patterns are still in popular demand. But that doesn’t mean changes can’t be made. Don’t hesitate to introduce new colors, animal prints and beach-type looks. Some companies are expanding their supply and adding new decor to the mix.

Creative Converting has expanded the theme to include children’s birthdays. Curry noted that the company also is offering a “more adult design with natural colors and elements like bamboo” to appeal to customers of all ages.

Others are making sure decor can be purchased at any price. Amscan has a large selection of Luau decor to fit any customer’s budget – inexpensive items for the conservative shopper and costly decor for those without a budget. And if you’re looking for that one item that will catch customers’ attention, Beer said paper lanterns are a must-have, and paper lanterns are available in a variety of sizes and color to fit any Luau theme.

“Retailers should not miss out on paper lanterns – a big decorative trend,” she said. “It’s easy to create a great looking indoor or outdoor Luau party by hanging lanterns throughout the space.”

Also, keep an eye out for leis, inflatable coolers, tableware and other accessories that allow your customers to complete the full, fun look. Remember, keeping it classic is okay, but don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know – it might pay off. If you’re hesitant, take Unique’s advice and try combinations.

“This year Unique has paired the ever popular hibiscus with a zebra stripe to create a fun, fresh look for the upcoming season,” Kirschner said. “This will allow retailers to cross merchandise many of their zebra tableware and accessory items with the more traditional Luau items to create a Luau Gone Wild look.”

If you combine popular looks, the possibilities are endless. Your shop will have an increased number of options but the decor can still be sold separately. When profits can be made, who wouldn’t want to give it a try? The possibilities are endless.

Whichever path you choose, whether it’s to stay traditional or venture out into the unknown, success will follow and Luau decor will sell. It’s clear that the theme isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.


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