9 weeks till Christmas which means it’s consumer promotion time.

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The start of late fall term is always a reminder of just how close Christmas really is. So it’s time to get your shop on! This time of year there are promotions everywhere, both in-store and online ranging from deep discounts, buy one get ones (BOGO), freebies, free shipping and more.

A few weeks back I was walking through the mall at lunch and stopped in my tracks at a promotion that confused me. Typically, promotions are short term techniques used to get your customers to do something with common objectives being an increase in sales, product awareness or brand loyalty. They come in various forms such as coupons, rebates, promotional pricing, samples, freebies, premiums, contests, sweepstakes, trade-ins etc and are intended to either reduce the overall cost of the product or add more benefit by giving the consumer more for their money.

Free smartphone with any Piercing Pagoda Purchase

The promotion? Piercing Pagoda: Free smartphone with any Piercing Pagoda purchase and a new 2 year plan with data feature.

I have not yet taken the elective course on Consumer Promotions (IMC 617) so I am relying on the content covered in Direct Marketing (IMC 616), therefore I am going to ask my fellow classmates who have taken Consumer Promotions to weigh in on this one for me. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Piercing Pagoda is a jewelry boutique selling earings etc. One of the little mall shops that you can walk into and get your ears pierced on the spot. So what does this have to do with smartphones and cell phone plans? You can spend as little as $10 and get this promotion – not exactly encouraging an up-sell or requiring a particular dollar amount to launch product sales. It doesn’t encourage consumers to come back and redeem on their next purchase. In fact, the promotion has nothing to do with their product base. I assume that this falls into the premium promotional category where the free product doesn’t necessarily consist of the product the company sells, although usually there is some connection. So why choose this particular campaign? Are they making commissions on every new plan that is sold? Or is this just a great way to target their base, which is teenagers (although you have to be 18 or older to qualify cutting out a good portion of the teenage market – also a new cell phone plan with data feature would be a pricey promotional requirement – it has to be a new plan, commit to 2 years, spend anywhere from $50- $120/mo – a bit of a hefty freebie isn’t it).

So what’s your thoughts on this? Doesn’t it seem that a free smartphone is a high promotional premium for a product as cheap as $10? Also, promotions tend to be short term – I saw this walking in the mall 6 weeks ago, I see it is still active on their website so not sure how long it has been running in total so far. Is it truly a promotion or a strange brand extension disguised as a promotion? Obviously we would need to know more about the objectives and the outcome of the campaign, but with what we know – I would love to hear your feedback.

And, while you’re out shopping this season, if you find promotions that you thought were either great or horrible, likely to be effective or ineffective – post them here.

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