The SALE is dead.. Long live the SALE!


Image by Gerard Stolk vers l’Assomption via Flickr

Sale implores that we will miss out – if we don’t act now! Sale means ‘we bought wrong’, or we’re (pseudo) closing down because we didn’t set out our stall right.

Sale says “not much” anymore. There’ll be another one along just after.

Do businesses/ brands/ companies not know how to engage with us, don’t they trust us. Are we their automatons, being stressed to eat again and again, like French geese for foie gras? Maybe the brand is misunderstood, or not well enough connected to both the now and the then. Perhaps the growth of a consistent heritage was compromised by too many err, sales..

Show us some other better and smarter tricks.

Acting like a machine gun in the trenches, sales are indiscriminate, spraying price over all and sundry. We, the consumer, have been conditioned to those requirements, and come equipped for the confrontations, wallets closed.

Why the confrontation? It’s incredible to imagine, but the financial services industry have got one thing going for them, in terms of how they interact with the consumer. They want to know you better, albeit to sell you more, and at higher sales margins than is strictly required, but they see that taking the long-term view is far more profitable than short-term profit. Renewal commission means that they’ll get a small part of your returns for as long as you hold them (in addition to many, many other fees). It’s for that reason that businesses and brands who know, really know their customers well, can target and personalise the value based offers they share.

Need a good example? Check out not just Tesco, but their Clubcard loyalty scheme, which over the last years has put them firmly at the top of the consumer engagement heap in the UK, and increasingly in overseas markets too. Getting to know us, and our purchasing habits, that bit better – through technology.

One day we will heed a different call, our own, or forced by nature, of saying no. But only when there’s a different way, a better way, a smarter and more balanced way to transact goods and services.

The NZ consumer model is what we’ve got. Of companies forward-buying huge volumes of stock and forcing the ‘deals’ down our necks, like aforementioned French geese. We realise something’s wrong when our High Streets disappear, to be recreated as identikit malls. Covered walkways surrounded by car parks, linking ‘lifestyle’ prchasing choices.

Now we realise we can save our own ‘margins’ by purchasing using the same model, sourcing goods overseas and dealing (slightly more) direct. Suppliers are happy to have great margin direct sales, as a sideline to large but lower margin orders from NZ retailers.

In much the same way as we will convey ourselves differently in twenty years time, so the face of how we consume goods is already changing irreversibly.

As the proportion of income that goes on essentials rises (read: food, shelter, warmth, transport in many cases), so the demands of the consumer for value will skyrocket. Consumer brands will have to be operating at the top of their game to retain customers, manage and enhance loyalty, and somehow dissolve the necessity of ‘sale as call to action’ for spending patterns.

We’re simply conning ourselves by thinking we are getting the best local deals, when showing no loyalty to brands. Will the stand-off ever end? More likely, it will result in the demise of consumer brands who don’t ‘get’ the new World order. Of purchasing overseas, and having most goods below $400 shipped at reasonable cost to NZ, free of GST. Unless you’ve managed to build a defendable niche brand and product, manufactured locally, to high quality, and with an unsullied reputation.

The true price of low or no loyalty, is that the consumer will simply shop globally for commoditised goods. Good time to be a freight company, or a secure letterbox manufacturer… and get out of commoditised goods.

43words ©David Binstead 2011-12. All rights reserved.


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