How to break the promotional habit

No matter how much we don’t want it to be, price still remains at the top of the shopper agenda. Despite the fact that we are coming out of a period of austerity, the habits that we have picked up during this period are here to stay, creating a price conscious shopper.

The emergence of price comparison sites, on-line shopping and discounters has made these behaviours even more apparent.

Promotions are a key facilitator to offering price discounts to shoppers and have become the rule rather than the exception. We all know that it devalues our categories, but how can we stop it?

The answer is we probably can’t! But perhaps we can get smarter about how we execute promotions to break the habit. Here are some tips of how we think you can do this…

1. Consider WHO you are targeting with your promotions

We often launch a promotion without truly understanding who we are trying to target, and what shopper behaviour change we are trying to influence. This should be the start point for any promotional activity. For example, what type of shopper and what mission are we trying to attract? If it’s a top up shopper with a small basket for example, then a multi-buy is probably not the best mechanic to use.

2. Keep it simple

Like with most things to do with shopping, simplicity and transparency are key. Whether shopping online or in-store, we would prefer to be doing something else with our time, so the more we can do to make it easier to shop, the happier shoppers will be.

The ability to continually check prices means we need to be transparent. When applying that to promotions, you need to make sure you are clear on what you are offering. For example price mark packs often help – especially in channels such as convenience where value is more of a barrier.

Shoppers don’t want to do the maths either, so we need to use mechanics that make it as simple as possible. This may include things like round pound deals or price per unit offers – as they make it easy for people to calculate value at speed.

3. Shout Louder about what you do!

As we’ve already discussed, shoppers don’t want to do the maths in-store, and many won’t. We’ve all seen examples of promotions that fly off the shelf, but when you work out the saving to the shopper, it’s sometimes very minimal. The key is therefore not always the depth of the deal, but how loud you shout about it. Using a simple well packaged promotion that is communicated through the line will attract shoppers attention in a visually noisy shopping environment

4. Consider what language is motivating to shoppers

We are living in the age of social networking where peer to peer endorsement is vital. We should use this concept when applying it to promotional language. For example a sign saying “best selling product of the week” is likely to resonate with shoppers, but a sign saying “best selling product in this store” is even more likely to resonate, as shoppers feel an association with people in THEIR store and THEIR town. This promotion below is another good example of using smart language to appeal to shoppers – the definitive end point will add a sense of ‘must buy it now’ pressure to shoppers, suggesting it’s a good deal.

5. Add value to shoppers aside from unit price

Whilst price clearly is a huge driver of choice, it is not the only way we can create value for shoppers. We need to tap into the other drivers for our shoppers by understanding them better and what motivates them. Free gifts, prizes and other mechanics can also work. The Coke name on a bottle is a great example of a campaign that’s tapped into something that’s valuable to shoppers, other than price. It’s a case of understanding your target shopper and finding out what type of things will add value to them.

In summary, to improve the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns:

• Be focused with who you are targeting

• Keep it simple

• Shout louder about what you do

• Use effective language

• Think beyond price to add value

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