Freedom moves away from discount fatigue

freedom furnitureThere certainly won’t be a Boxing Day sale at Steinhoff-owned furniture chain Freedom this year.

That’s according to Tim Schaafsma, managing director for Freedom Australia who is so far very pleased with the launch of the furniture chain’s ‘Price Drop’ initiative, which sees the abolishment of discounting and promotional activity, in a bid to provide clarity and transparency on pricing to its customers.

The Freedom brand – associated contemporary furniture and homewares since 1981 – has crafted its Everyday Value Promise to both reduce prices and create a better experience for consumers who are often frustrated when they miss out on a sale.

Last week, Freedom announced it has permanently reduced prices on over 5,000 products across its range as the first step in a new customer-centric strategy. Having long operated in a category dominated by endless cycles of high-low pricing and promotions, Freedom said it has pledged to put integrity into its pricing and customers at the heart of its business.

Schaafsma told IRW that the initiative comes after 12 months of evaluating customers feedback, with customers’ fears that they might not have gotten the best deal fostering an endemic culture of ‘expecting’ sales activity. A decision was taken towards the end of April this year to remove “frenetic activity” and focus on communicating the brand’s offer, as oppose to when to expect the next deal.

“We want to make it very clear to customers what our value proposition is and communicate  really that Freedom sells rooms and not products and we certainly don’t sell discounts,” he said.

“We’ve been so focused on promotional activity, we’ve not been able to tell that [Freedom’s] story to our customers,” he said. “So bringing in new product, it’s about celebrating that product and why it is we’ve brought it into our range and then giving our customers the confidence today without worrying next week that it’s going to be suddenly 20 per cent cheaper than it was this week.

“So the price drop is really the starting point but the real message here is about an everyday value promise that we’re giving customers.”

Stores will be used theatres, with Schaafsma asserting Freedom has invested more in its bricks and mortar network than ever before in the company’s history, with “well over $10 million spent” in ensuring each location has been brought up to speed.

“It’s our belief that we really need to ensure that when the customer comes into our store they’re as inspired as they were when they saw us online,” he said.

Digital has also been a focus of investment, with Freedom launching QR codes in selected product categories allowing customers to see the backstory of goods.

“It is my hope that we will very soon have videos of product being made and meeting the artisans who create our ceramic vessels and the people that weave our baskets. We are certainly looking at digital both on our hardware and on our customer’s hardware converging as part of that experience.

Schaafsma added that engaging in more promotional activity creates the risk of making the brand appear more expensive in customers’ eyes. “So you have this almost inversion of a value proposition where the more discounts you’re offering, potentially customers misunderstand that as being ‘Well you’re starting point is way too high’.

“We are trying to call out the psychology of discounting,” he said.


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