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When Is a “Sale” a Sale?

30 Nov

Unfortunately, many retailers misuse the term “sale”. And shoppers are often persuaded that a product is on sale even when it isn’t. [For our holiday shopping tips, please click here.]

As noted in Evans and Berman’s Marketing in the 21st Century: Price advertising guidelines have been set by the FTC and trade associations such as the Better Business Bureau. The FTC’s guidelines set standards of permissible conduct in these categories:

  • A firm may not claim or imply that a price has been reduced from a former level unless the original price was offered to the public on a regular basis during a reasonable, recent period of time.
  • A firm may not claim its price is lower than that of competitors or the manufacturer’s list price without verifying, via price comparisons involving large quantities of merchandise, that an item’s price at other companies in the same trading area is in fact higher.
  • A suggested list price or pre-marked price can’t be advertised as a reference point for a sale or a comparison with other items unless the advertised item has really been sold at that price.
  • Bargain offers (“free,” “buy one, get one free,” and “half-price sale”) are deemed deceptive if terms are not disclosed at the beginning of a sales presentation or in an ad, the stated regular price of an item is inflated to create an impression of savings, or the quality or quantity of a product is lessened without informing consumers. A firm cannot continuously advertise the same item as being on sale.
  • Bait-and-switch advertising is an illegal practice whereby customers are lured to a seller that advertises items at very low prices and then told the items are out of stock or of poor quality. Salespeople try to switch shoppers to more expensive substitutes, and there is no intent to sell advertised items. Signs of bait-and-switch are refusals to demonstrate sale items, the belittling of sale items, inadequate quantities of sale items on hand, refusals to take orders, demonstrations of defective items, and the use of compensation plans encouraging salespeople to use the tactic.

As Suzanne Kapner reported last week for the Wall Street Journal:

“Building complexity into product prices benefits retailers. It helps to cloud the transparency of online pricing, making it harder for shoppers to compare prices across chains. “’The more prices become convoluted, the less retailers will have to match lower prices offered by their rivals,’ said Simeon Siegel, an analyst with Nomura Holdings Inc.”

“And price has become a moving target. Amazon changed prices 666 times on 180 popular products sold from Nov. 1 through Nov. 19, according to Market Track, a price-tracking firm. That is a 51% increase in price volatility compared with similar products sold during the same period a year earlier. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ’s prices changed 631 times and Best Buy Co. ’s prices changed 263 times on similar products sold during the same period this year.”

Take a look at four deceptive practices highlighted by the Wall Street Journal. Click the image to see a larger view of the chart.


How Will YOU Pay for Your Holiday Shopping?

29 Nov

Interestingly, according to a recent survey of 1,000 people, 39 percent of holiday shoppers will pay for their gifts in cash, 32 percent will pay with a debit card, and only 22 percent will pay by credit card. Three percent will pay by check.
Take a look at this Wall Street Journal video to learn more.


A Video Preview of 2016

27 Nov

The Innovation Group at J. Walter Thomson Intelligence has prepared a dynamic video preview of its predictions for 2016 events, as part of its roundup of 100 trends to focus on in 2016. The full report will be published shortly and we will post it here. :-)


Inc.’s Coolest New Products for 2015

23 Nov

There are all kinds of best lists that appear at this time of year. We’re noting a few of them. In the area of innovation, one of the coolest (pun intended. :-) ) lists is a ranking of the coolest products of the year.

Bartie Scott has identified 15 cool new products in 2015 for Inc. Here are a few of them.

Lily Robotics Drone: Toss this flying camera into the air, and it will soar above, behind, or around its user like a futurist homing pigeon. Set to ship in early 2016 for a presale price of $799 (regularly $999), Lily’s launch video got more than nine million views on YouTube.”

Hammerhead: This navigation system ($85) hitches a ride on your bike’s handlebars. By connecting to your phone’s Bluetooth, the lights flash directions when approaching turns. Hammerhead raised more than $190,000 on crowdsourcer Dragon Innovation.”


LulzBot Mini 3D Printer: Using open-source hardware, Aleph Objects is expanding the reach of 3-D printing for designers and entrepreneurs with this desktop printer. The $1,350 home printer has received outstanding reviews on its handling of precise detail.”


Click the image below for the full slideshow of the top 15.


Tips for Small and Mid-Sized Firms

20 Nov

Formulating and articulating plans and tactics are as important for small and mid-sized firms as for large firms. Being thorough, systematic, and consistent are crucial to success.

As Knowledge@Wharton and SAP recently stated:

“Whether you are a company with 10 or 100,000 employees, running a business is getting quite complicated these days. An interconnected global economy has opened opportunities for Main Street businesses to sell to overseas markets, but they come with challenging complexities in logistics, currency translation, taxation, labor regulations, and other areas. Even expanding locally tacks on complexity from an influx of vendors, customers, and additional staff. Meanwhile, digital technologies bring in massive amounts of data that need to be sorted through to maximize business strategies while real-time user feedback is also changing the way companies operate.”


Click the image to access “Simplifying Small Businesses and Midsize Companies to Unlock Growth.”


Customer Journey Mapping in a Digital Age

19 Nov

As we have noted before, consumers follow a much different purchasing path than in the past. Millions of U.S. shoppers are “multi-channel,” because they shop in stores, online, and via smartphones.

Knowledge@Wharton and Dell recently collaborated on research about the changes in the shopping process and how to handle them:

“Digital transformation goes deeper than simply improving the customer experience. It is also increasingly used to transform business processes and interactions within a company to keep it relevant in the digital age. ‘Typically, digital is associated only with providing a superior customer experience. But digital can also help create new business models, drive operational excellence, and enhance employee engagement,’ says Raman Sapra, global head of Dell‘s digital business services unit.”


Click the image to access “Customer Journey Mapping Is at the Heart of Digital Transformation.”


Best Books of 2015 for Entrepreneurs

18 Nov

Thinking of a starting a new business? If the answer is yes, then you need the best information and advice possible. And there are a lot of excellent books out there to choose from and read.

Geoffrey James, an Inc. contributing editor, recently published a top ten list of the best books of 2015 for starting a business:

“2015 could arguably be named the ‘year of the entrepreneur.’ Shark Tank became must-see TV, the SEC allowed regular folks to invest in startups, and has become one of the most-visited business websites in the world.”

“Not surprisingly, 2015 had a bumper crop of excellent books for entrepreneurs. That’s a very good thing, because to be useful ‘start your own business’ books must be grounded in the economic reality. In other words, if you’re starting your own business, you need access to the latest and greatest thinking on the subject. With that in mind, here are ten brand-new and updated books that you should read by the end of the year.”

Here is James’ top ten list. Clicking a book title will bring you to Amazon’s page for that book.

  1. The Art of the Start 2.0
  2. Disrupt You!
  3. The End of Jobs
  4. Quit Your Job in 6 Months
  5. Job Escape Plan
  6. The One Page Business Plan
  7. Bold
  8. The School of Greatness
  9. The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster
  10. Think Big, Act Bigger



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