A guest post by Alan L. Codkind — Thanks!
Anonymous, one of the most dynamic and creative thinkers of our time, once said, “There is no brand loyalty that two cents off can’t overcome.” How profound. A simple way to understand how brand loyalty works. But is it the least bit true? And, just how prevalent is “two cents off” as a strategy for attracting new and return buyers in omnichannel environments?
I just checked the last ten messages that I received in G-mail that were categorized as Promotions. (Let’s not even go there…) At the top were, “Final Hours Semi-Annual Sale!”, “Its Back! 72-Hour Extreme Coupon Sale – Prices Slashed!” and “Alan, Open Sale – Last Day to Save 15%!” The remaining E-mails were pretty much the same. I didn’t even consider opening any of the fifty or so that I haven’t had a chance to delete yet, even if I did need a new printer cartridge and prices were slashed! They were just not compelling. It reminded me of barkers at the County Fair calling for my attention. “Three shots for a quarter! Win the lovely lady a prize!”
So how do you rise above the noise and get a prospect’s attention?
I maintain that this has to do with appealing to a customer’s view of themselves … not their image of you. In the buyers’ mind, they are a market-of-one, because they really do not care about other shopper needs — just their own. As a market-of-one, more differences than consistencies become visible as you drill down on buyer characteristics.
I believe that the door to engaging customers like a market-of-one is through lifestyle. To do this, you provide day-to-day experiences that resonate with them as relevant and interesting. For everyone, it is different, not just in product, but supporting their perceptions of self and how they define themselves. Of course, perception is reality. So their view of their lifestyle is the buyer you must attract. And with it, “two cents off” becomes increasingly irrelevant. Ask Harley-Davidson. People buy a Harley because of who it says they believe they are, not what price the bike is.
MSN.com has terrific home page of lifestyle topics called the Wonderwall. It dynamically illustrates how celebrity news, photos, and gossip on are presented in a compelling way. Links to related products are seamlessly integrated into the rest of the site and constantly update. Click to see the image current wall.
Another great example is Jimmy Jazz. This is a retailer of street-inspired products for urban men and women. Its market is truly a collection of market-of-one buyers. For many of its customers, dressing differently from others is a sign of distinction — their own signature label. And that attitude includes knowing more about what’s going on in the street: Being the first to get the lyrics just released by their favorite group. Interacting on edgy social sites far ahead of the traditional Facebook variety. Getting advanced notice about new footwear from Shaq. Seeing videos of celebrities in Jimmy Jazz stores looking at clothes or accessories.
Jimmy Jazz visitors come to keep in touch. And also buy. As Anonymous also said, “The longer you keep a customer engaged, the better the chance he will buy.” And what better way than lifestyle experience intermingled with product? And it seems to be working. Jimmy Jazz is becoming a cult store. It now has over 175 retail stores and its E-commerce site is the third-fastest growing site on the Retail 500. And that is from near zero revenue online three years ago.
Now, how does “two cents off” sound?
Alan L. Codkind is a Principal Consultant with Disruptive Marketing Solutions. Previously, he was a co-founder and Associate Fellow at The Marketing Lab at Young and Rubicam. At IBM, he was a Principal Consultant for five National Practices and Product Director for eCommerce. He has been on the founding team of a half dozen venture-funded software start-ups, where he learned the nuances of how disruptive marketing differs from traditional marketing. He can be reached at email@example.com and 336-870-2226 in East Brunswick, NJ.