Melbourne Cup marketing tips for small business

Australia’s most famous race, the Melbourne Cup, returns this year on Tuesday 6 November. Here are just a few ways small businesses like yours can tap into the race that stops the nation – and the Derby Day, Oaks Day and Stakes Day events that form the rest of the Melbourne Cup Carnival – with timely marketing and promotions.

Fashion Retailer

From suits and shoes to hats and frocks, a big part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is about dressing up for the occasion.

So if you’re a fashion retailer, it’s easy to run marketing campaigns around the Cup. As well as creating in-store merchandising and window displays promoting suitably fabulous outfits, you can offer complimentary personal styling services, create Melbourne Cup-themed blogs or Instagram posts that link to your online store, and more.

Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons

Getting the perfect look for Melbourne Cup Day is about more than finding the right outfit, which is why hairdressing and beauty businesses can also benefit from Cup-centric campaigns.

This may involve general marketing such as Facebook ads to promote your business in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, or targeted promotions offering special deals to new or existing customers. A barber, for example, could offer a beard trim and haircut deal, while a beauty salon could promote a manicure and pedicure package.

Restaurants, pubs and bars

While some 100,000 punters will attend the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse to see the race live, many more will be watching it on big screens across the nation. This makes a Melbourne Cup-themed celebration a great weekday event for restaurants, pubs and bars to host.

Your promotion could involve something as simple as serving racing-themed cocktails or snacks, to offering ticketed packages that include a multi-course meal and drinks. Either way, offering a live screening of the big race in an atmospheric setting will hold the key to bringing customers in.

Cafes, patisseries and caterers

Apart from those lucky enough to live in Victoria, where Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday, most Australians won’t be taking the day off for the big event. As a result, many people looking to celebrate will be doing so at work.

That’s good news for cafes, patisseries and catering businesses, which can take advantage of the regular workday timing by delivering Melbourne Cup-themed cakes, sweet treats, or catering packages offices, workplaces and organisations hosting in-house lunches or afternoon teas.

Bottle shops

Bottle shops can join the carnival action by targeting people hosting parties at home or in the office. This could include offers on champagne, sparkling wine, beer, or the ingredients for a special Melbourne Cup cocktail, such as the Aperol and Prosecco needed to make Aperol Spritz.

Dry cleaners

If you run a dry cleaning business, you can encourage customers to dry clean their suits and dresses to look their sharpest before the Melbourne Cup Carnival begins…or get rid of any telltale stains afterwards.

You can use a variety of low-cost media to support your promotion, including in-store signage, e-newsletters, social media ads, or a local flyer drop.


Melbourne Cup Day gives chemists and pharmacies an opportunity to create promotions based on essential items for those attending themed events or the race itself. This can include medical items such as sticking plasters, blister patches, pain relief tablets and vitamins, to beauty essentials like perfume and makeup. You can promote these items using specially themed in-store displays, or simply pop them on counter for last-minute impulse purchases.

Supermarkets, delis and grocery stores

Food retailers can create Melbourne Cup Day promotions that target customers who’ll be entertaining on the day, as well as guests who to bring something to contribute to a friend’s or workplace’s event. Consider creating in-store displays that feature curated selections of party goods such as cheese, crackers, olives, pre-made salads and cold meats, or offering specials on these products in the lead-up to the big day.

What if you want to say nup to the Cup?

If you own a restaurant, pub, bar or cafe, you could host an event that offers a haven for anyone keen to avoid Melbourne Cup Day – and even join the growing number of venues hosting fundraising events for animal welfare charities as an alternative to watching the race.

Whatever marketing you’re planning to do for Melbourne Cup Day, make sure you start planning it soon – as the big day is getting close!

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