I’m not sensing a theme here. No really. When it comes to decluttering the promotional landscape I have some great tools at hand. It also helps that I have a background in the retail industry and I like to, you know, shop online. So when it comes time to translating the industry happenings I am usually a sale sensei. This time? I’m not sure folks. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to this past weekend. This is a time when it feels like there is no need for a sale, except for the sake of a sale. Think about it. Easter is in the past and the seasons have already changed. Cinco de Mayo? Sure. But that money is going to tacos and margaritas. Mother’s Day? Okay. But that is two weeks away so I still have time to procrastinate on getting my mom a gift. If anything, it seems like the promotional clutter is, for once, incomprehensible. Or is it?
Decluttering the Promotional Landscape
In actuality, I think this past weekend is a great time to look at the state of retail from a more macro perspective. Here in the US, the market has become saturated. Customers have become trained to look for and expect an extra discount at checkout. What originally followed a cadence of market share events (Holiday Times) and unique retailer events (think Friends and Family) has now been stretched out to create a general state of promotion. With little to no down time between sale events, what is the incentive for customers to purchase when they expect a bigger, badder promotion not far down the road?
To put this in perspective, we have put together a quick overview of the sales and promotions this last weekend so you can understand the cadence on a normal, non-holiday weekend:
Who was on sale?
For a weekend without a real good tagline (President’s Day? Back to School?), there was a surprising amount of activity. Promo codes got fun and creative, specific categories were highlighted, and discounts went deep. Here is a sampling of some of the bigger happenings:
What did it look like?
Without a good tagline or holiday that everyone can benchmark, how is promotional activity visualized? Well this varied. Some went big and bright and all about the numbers. Some screamed “New!” from the rooftops. Left to their own devices, the marketing activity kept it simple and to the point: a good deal is always to be had.
What did this past weekend teach up about promotions?
Well, surprise, maybe there are too many. With a such a promotional heavy market the sense of urgency as a customer is watered down. In the retail game of chicken, the customer will always wait it out and win, knowing that the retailer will break down and offer a better deal. So have retailers lost the chance to train their customers into reacting to sales? Not quite. If anything, this is an opportunity to see clearly through the weeds and cut back. At the end of the day, it might not just be margins that are saved but also brand integrity.
Hopefully this post doesn’t come back to haunt me as a customer, but for the sake of the business we’ll be here to help you continue to see through the promotional clutter.
By the way, these insights are by way of our new Promotions Dashboard. Find out more about it here.