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Sales events impacting brand integrity

coles, supermarket, down downSales events conducted by and in the premises of brick and mortar retailers are waning in relevance, credibility and performance.

A major contributing factor is that there are simply too many such activities. Consumers no longer fear, nor are influenced, by the prospect of missing out on current discounts, savings and offerings.

Repetition is literally and figuratively death – for individual businesses – and their competitors, who seem to be afflicted by the same contaminated philosophies and practices.

Time, and the lack of urgency, weigh heavily in favour of the existing and perspective customers.

Online retailing is a further compounding issue that is impacting on the currency of instore sales events.

A recent national attitudinal study conducted by Marketing Focus identified that many consumers perceive the online retail prices for a broad spectrum of products and services are consistently lower and more attractive than comparative instore pricing structures.

Notwithstanding the annual ‘Click Frenzy’ promotion, a majority of consumers perceive online prices to be consistent, attractive, and in many instances, compelling.

The apparent or perceptual absence of variances in online pricing satisfies the desire of 63 per cent of Australian customers for “everyday lower prices”. One key psychological consequence of this is empowerment. Consumers feel in control, of when they buy, what they buy and from where they buy.

That control and choice represents genuine value. The virtues of consistency and continuity seem palpable.

Contradictory statements

The lessons are pertinent for supermarket retailers.

The following advertising positioning statements and advertising campaign themes are contradictory:

  • Everyday Lower Prices;
  • 2000 Specials Per Week;
  • Cheap, Cheap;
  • Prices Are Down;

It seems irrational that one Australian national retailing network would, or actually does, concurrently utilise those reference in their communications. Interestingly, and significantly, many consumers contend that such practices compromise the value and integrity of the brand. So too, the overuse of sales events and two-price strategies between the bricks and mortar and online channels.

For management, the choices are not difficult. The appropriate decisions are not hard. The answers seem easy. However, business is simple, but never easy.

Sales events seem to have sold out. Some things should never be on sale. Brand integrity is one. It’s time to move on.

Barry Urquhart runs Marketing Focus and is a business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and keynote speaker. He can be contacted at or on 0419 835 555. 

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