Promotions: The Rise of Acceptable Haggling
On my journey to work this morning I counted the number of offers I could have taken advantage of – from the loyalty points I could have accrued for filling up at the petrol station, through to the voucher printed in Metro for a free coffee with a cake at Costa – the total number of promotions came in at double figures when I also included some of the emails I received overnight offering me daily deals for teeth whitening, spa breaks, tattoo removals (I really must unsubscribe – not really my thing!). All in all I could have saved around £165 and that’s before 9 am. My point however, is that FastMap’s recent research which revealed promotion consumption to be on the rise is unsurprising.
Consumers are becoming conditioned to actively seek out a deal. If there is a discount box on a website, people will spend time searching out the magic code which will afford them 10% off. Promotions have become our polite way of haggling. Whilst the average Brit is unlikely to go into a store and argue down the RRP, an acceptable practice elsewhere in the world, we no longer bat an eye lid at shoving a fist full of coupons at our waiter or supermarket cashier, something that would have filled Hyacinth Bucket with horror.
The national psyche towards deals and promotions is changing. We almost feel cheated if we don’t get some money off or a perception of added value. The recent switching legislation is testament to this. Without exception, all of the bank’s latest advertising is “come to us and we’ll give you… delete as applicable *free money/a new loyalty scheme that gives you deals and money off at your favourite stores/favourable rates”.
Brands are consequently having to reassess the way that they make their customers feel valued as promotions aren’t the differentiator they once were – they are still an effective medium, but they do not offer incremental profitable sales. How a brand communicates with their customers is now proving to be the lynchpin in terms of the value exchange between customers and their favourite brands. Content marketing in particular, when combined with promotional marketing is proving particularly successful. Content is a new currency that consumers are cashing in exchange for their attention and time.
Whether the content is provided in the form a customer magazine, branded website or app, point of sale material, an email newsletter or a mix of channels, retailers in particular, are recognising the value of the dual strategy. Another recent research study, this one by the DMA, showed that supermarkets are the most trusted retail stores. Today four of the top five consumer magazines are produced by supermarkets. Moreover, of the 100 most trusted UK brands, 78 of them provide their customers with content – a compelling case for combining content with promotional marketing.
Patrick Fuller, chairman, Result