Consumers Beware Retailers Bearing Discounts and Rebates

Aug 11, 2003
George Anderson

Consumers Beware Retailers Bearing Discounts and Rebates

By George Anderson

An article in The Washington Post warns consumers to be wary of sales
promotion deals offered by or through retailers.

It turns out, according to the piece, retailers understand consumers better
than consumers understand themselves.

The result, according to The Post, is that only those with the “time
to comparison-shop, educate themselves and read the fine print can beat a system
set up to take advantage of human nature.”

A case in point is the use of rebates by a wide variety of companies. The vast
majority of consumers, according to experts, never send in the necessary documentation
to receive a rebate (estimated between five and 40 percent).

Kevin Clancy, chief executive officer, Copernicus Marketing Consulting suggests
retailers may not know consumers as much as they are credited with knowing.

“Most industries are assuming that the buyers are obsessed with price,” Mr.
Clancy told The Post. “If they took the money they’re wasting giving
stuff away and put it into better service and happier employees, they’d have
a better business model.”

Moderator’s Comment: How well do retailers know consumers?
Do they do a good job of translating what they know into strategies and tactics
that build loyalty?

Portions of the Washington Post piece would have you believe
retailers are able to hypnotize consumers into parting with their money. If
that were so, we wouldn’t hear so many struggling companies recite the “we have
to focus on the consumer more” mantra.

John Fleming, lead consultant for customer engagement
at Gallup, said building a customer base requires going beyond simple customer
service and connecting with a shopper emotionally.

Mr. Fleming told The Washington Post, “The foundational
elements of that emotional attachment are trust and integrity, especially the
integrity part, which has to do with fair treatment. Feeling that you’re being
ripped off is the definition of inequitable and unfair treatment.”

Anderson – Moderator

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