Can retailers sell anything without sales?
I recently had a conversation with a grocery chain executive who lamented the number of product categories in which everyday priced items failed to turn on store shelves while promoted products provided lift, but not to the degree they did in years past. It turns out, she surmised, that consumers had figured out the marketing game played by brands and merchants and could rarely be incentivized to purchase anything before they were ready.
An article published on The Wall Street Journal website yesterday covers some of the same territory as my conversation. The piece pointed to promotions by clothing retailers around the Memorial Day and the Fourth of July (exactly what the founders envisioned when declaring independence) and the types of language used by retailers – “Last Chance” – to move customers to purchase.
In the end, the article concludes, as did the grocery executive, that consumers rarely buy anything unless they think they are getting a deal. Unfortunately, the constant stream of sales has led consumers to conclude that there is no rush to go online or head to stores to make a purchase.
“Basically, it’s always a sale now,” Barry Schwartz, a consumer psychologist and professor at Swarthmore College, told the Journal. “The retailers are killing themselves.”
- How to Play the July 4th Sales – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Got profitable promos? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can retailers break the promotional trap they’ve put themselves in? Are there retailers you can point to as examples of good practices? What is it about them that makes them unique in this respect?