Published on: January 8, 2009Now available on iTunes...
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
It’s only two weeks since Christmas, and I don't know about you, but I’m already tired of getting email and snail mail announcing this sale and that discount. Now, I understand that retailers of all kinds, having suffered through a generally awful end-of-year-holiday season, feel the need to generate some shopper traffic, some sales, and even, in moments of supreme optimism, maybe even a little profit.
But as one of millions of Americans who has made a conscious decision to be very careful about expenditures as we navigate a recession unlike any we’ve known before, I’m frankly a little annoyed that so many people are trying to separate me from my money. At some level, it is just like the credit card offers that used to flood the mailbox before I subscribed to a service that put a stop to them – irritating in the extreme because they seem to be so completely random and even tone-deaf.
Now, I understand that MorningNewsBeat is a business-to-business website, and that retailers have a right to make a living, and to do everything they can to survive the hard times. But I guess what I’m arguing is that they also need to appear not to be tone-deaf to the needs and concerns of their shoppers.
I think this is where the retailers that employ a targeted marketing program are going to come up big. Because they track shopper behavior, and know what their customers – especially their best customers – are buying, they should be able to demonstrate a greater sensitivity to what lines should not be crossed.
And know this. There are lines that should not be crossed. Some will argue that it is the retailer’s job to sell, and the consumer’s job to decide whether to buy or not, and that’s true. But I think sensitivity is called for here, especially if retailers want to maintain long-term and positive relationships with the shoppers who will determine whether or not they will be successful, short-term and long-term. If you are selling something, I think it is important to be able to demonstrate the differential advantages of the product and the relevance it has to the shopper’s lifestyle. Of course, that’s a good idea all the time…but never more so than these days.
Indiscriminate flooding of ads and coupons, I think, eventually are going to wear thin on many shoppers who aren’t, for the time being, doing a lot of shopping.
This may seem counterintuitive if you actually are in the business of selling things, but there are a lot of things about the world these days that don't fit the old paradigms. This is the new normal…and we’d better all get used to it.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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