Is price always the best selling point?

Emails, emails. Our inboxes are full of them, and I’ve just added one more to yours. But sometimes the best intentioned emails can do more harm than good. I took out a store card last year from a department store, and since then have been receiving daily emails. Each one shouts about half price sales, discounts, one weekend only offers – so much so, that I’ve come to the conclusion that this store only ever does sales, and must have to rely on that to shift stock. Although I love shopping, I don’t like shopping in sales. There’s usually a random selection of items that nobody else wants, and if they are things that you want, only the extreme sizes are left – miniscule or massive. As for household items, I’m not one for impulse buying a pair of curtains or a mattress. If I need one, I’ll get one, but all the emails are not going to suddenly entice me to buy one. The lasting impression that I am left with is of cheap discounted stock.

What could they do differently?

Talk to me about the lovely new things that have just arrived, or feature their most popular, best-selling range. Show me gorgeous things that might fit in with my lifestyle, demonstrate they understand their customer (I had to provide enough information when I took out the card for them to know me quite well). Entice me with desirable, aspirational emails – not shoddy sale stuff all the time!

There’s nothing wrong with promoting a sale every now and again. But it gets a bit repetitive to say the least. Out of the last 10 emails I’ve received, these have been the standout subject lines:

  • With up to 60% off, our SALE reductions will help you save
  • Further reductions on hot summer styles
  • Friday has arrived! Celebrate with up to 50% off
  • 10% off for 12 hours only!
  • MUST END TODAY! Exclusive cardmember offer
  • Don’t miss an extra 10% off

Over a 7 day period they seem to employ a 5:2 ratio of ‘special offers’ versus new and interesting. If I was them I’d make it 1:6 – the balance should undoubtedly be in favour of the new and interesting with the occasional special offer or sale. They are just cheapening their brand by doing this.

Moral? Don’t assume that everyone is looking to buy on price alone. That approach could actually turn people off.