retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reported yesterday that in the UK, where Tesco has begun a promotion called “Buy One Get One Free Later.”

The idea is that traditional Buy-One-Get-One promotions for perishable products often result in wasted food that eventually is thrown away - people take the free products because they can, but are unable to use them before the expiration date.

So now, on certain products - such as melons, lettuce and other kinds of fresh produce - people can buy one this week and get vouchers which will allow them to get the same item a week later for free.

I like this idea a lot.

Not everybody did, however, as MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

. The strategy and belief behind large packages and BOGOs on perishable food products has been that having more product on hand will lead to increased consumption of the product rather than simply offsetting a future planned purchase. The Tesco move essentially changes the dynamic to one of a direct offset to a future purchase. This does not appear to me to be in the best interest of the retailer unless of course it brings new customers to the stores, builds loyalty etc, which it may well do.

If competitors adopt a similar approach it would seem to me that not only will the strategy result in a zero sum game it may result in 1 plus 1 equaling much less than 2.

One could always say that giving product away for free is a benefit to the consumer but that doesn’t on its own make it a good business practice. It will be very interesting to watch how things develop over time from this effort.

Another MNB user saw a hidden agenda:

Regarding Tesco in the UK beginning a promotion called  Buy One Get One Free Later. -Giant Eagle here is already a "giant" step ahead of them - almost all of their BOGO deals allow you to buy 1 at half price.  I believe Harris Teeter in NC does the same.  [Kroger has turned a deaf ear to my repeated suggestions that they adopt a similar policy.]  I suspect Tesco benefits from a bit of slippage in redemption of their "get one later vouchers" that probably have a short expiration date, as I suspect is also the case with the CVS Extra Bucks and Walgreen's Register Rewards programs.  I think psychologists would tell you that the "opportunity lost" consequence of these "later rewards" programs is likely to lead to an inordinate amount of consumer ill will.

But another MNB user disagreed:

I think this is a fabulous idea – keeps the same customer coming back through your doors every week…and while they’re there no telling what else they’ll buy.

And another MNB user observed:

While I can understand the positioning as helping the consumer conserve perishables I have to think that the prime mover for Tesco is that: Get one free later = a return trip to Tesco.

Nothing wrong with that, last I checked.

Still another MNB user wrote:

I think this is very smart. Not only because they are benefiting the shopper, but because this is a real incentive to make people come back to their store on the next supermarket visit. Creates loyalty or repeat business.

And MNB user Heidi Huff concurred:

It also helps get the shopper back into the store for an additional visit...

You’re playing my song...

Yesterday’s MNB Radio piece reflected on a Wall Street Journal story about common mistakes that men make when marketing to women, and I concluded that these mistakes seem to mirror that a lot of us make in our lives - we don’t pay attention to what is going on around us, we don’t watch and listen to our mothers/wives/sisters/daughters, and, essentially, sometimes we are morons.

MNB user Philip Herr seemed to disagree with the whole premise:

As they say, don’t believe everything you read in newspapers. Perhaps this is the style of journalism that Rupert Murdoch is bring to the WSJ (a bit of sensationalism perhaps?), but I went through the items in the article and found that I disagreed with virtually every one on behalf of my clients and my organization. No, I can’t see marketers making these kinds of stupid mistakes. And while I can’t recall which female celebrity has brought out a set of pink-handled home tools, it was a woman who signed off on that decision.

Another MNB user wrote:

I think in today’s world men are much better at recognize the differences etc… In my case, and many others who raised a family as a single Dad, I did all the shopping in all the categories. What happens is you quickly learn it is all about women and their needs. To say because men are the bosses and as such the mistakes are made in marketing… is simply not true. In most cases, especially with the larger companies, chains, etc…the people on the front line are mostly mixed between women and men. The grocery chains I deal with have a majority of the key marketing jobs held by the better half….. Men are second class in today’s world. For example…if a man’s work means he is working with a specific woman…the wives and girl friends do not like that situation at all. If the roles were reversed, men seem to tolerate it better knowing it is part of her job. I think most guys would agree.

Perhaps...but I got a ton of email from MNB users who agreed with my conclusions...many of them women.

MNB user Erica Russell Eby wrote:

Great MNB radio piece today.  While reading it I couldn’t help but think that perhaps product executives make the judgment that “the importance of an emotional appeal” is a bit shallow or silly.  That kind of logic leads to the “make it pink” knee jerk reaction.  Even in my own female mind, “emotional appeal” conjures images of being out of control, when it’s really a deeper level of thinking that integrates right brain and left brain functions.  Perhaps more effective imagery would suggest that product executives of any gender focus in on how their product touches the customer at the deepest levels of consciousness and proceed from there. 

Andrea Learned wrote:

I loved your piece.  And, no you are not wrong - it's exactly as you say.

Sometimes I think the marketing field/media coverage makes it seem like it's rocket science.  Marketing to women is not some steep hill to climb.  It boils down to good marketing, and you hit the nail on the head, pay attention to what goes on around you.  You definitely get clues from the women in your life and that can help you begin to see how to relate to your customers.

The extra interesting thing is that, as long as you market transparently to women (i.e. no pink!), men are less likely to be alienated and more likely to come along for the ride.  Men may be less inclined to demand what women do from marketers/brands, but they still appreciate it when they come across it by surprise.

MNB user Jackie Lembke wrote:

I would say sometimes is a conservative estimate. Men not only don’t understand how women shop, they rarely understand how to deal with us in the workplace either. In general, we find power trips and ego fests annoying and a waste of time. Generalizing is not a good thing and understanding who you are dealing with on a more “intimate” level is good. When working with or targeting a specific group, knowing what motivates that person or group works much better than dealing with everyone at the same level. I have two children motivated by different “things”. For one withholding approval works best, she is a people pleaser and that is what motivates her, the other cares less about pleasing others but was highly motivated with privileges or the lack thereof, grounding or taking away a privilege worked best. It didn’t always seem fair to the child, but it worked.

MNB user Patti Pagels wrote:

You just made my day, by sparking a memory from a much early time.  My father worked for over 40 years for one of the Detroit automotive brands (one that still exists—so, I’ll have to be a little vague).  In the late 70’s or so, they wanted to bring out a version of a very popular car to attract more women. 

After a lot of research, the designers made the amazing discovery that woman like different color combinations than men.  One of the more “stunning” revelations—women actually liked navy blue and beige together.  Imagine!  (To men, I was told, these are two neutrals and would not be combined on a car.  Whatever.)  They applied this supposedly “only-a-woman-could love” color scheme to the paint scheme and interior fabrics.  To make it even more attractive to women, they included a matching tote bag and umbrella, which stored in a pocket behind the driver’s seat.  Finally, they gave this car’s name a special “sub-title”—the name of a very upscale shopping mall just down the street from the ad agency.

It did quite well, if I remember correctly. I think women were just glad SOMEONE realized they were actually buying and driving cars.  It’s hard to believe that was leading edge at the time. Then, again, maybe not so much has changed . . .
Thanks, as always, for a great read.

MNB user Peter A. Alemian wrote:

Well put!  As a grocery marketing veteran of  20 years, and working in a culture where the customer’s voice trumps that of the VP of merchandising, I’m always struck by the lack of anything close to gender balance at the “Exec Team” level in many supermarket chains. Compound that with a research department that is more concerned with competitive share and unaided awareness than with issues impacting the customers state of mind and you’ve got a recipe for comp sales decreases.  Not to say there aren’t chains out there who get it; there are, and I’ve worked with some of them – but in general they seem outnumbered.  To your point, in the end, aren’t we all better off when we listen to our wives.

And finally, MNB user Tom Robinson wrote:

This sounds like a good subject for a Mel Gibson movie.  Didn’t you cover this in your book?

Actually....there was supposed to be a chapter in the book about “What Women Want,” the Mel Gibson comedy about the chauvinist pig who suddenly can hear what women are thinking and becomes not only a better advertising executive, but a better man.

But both Michael Sansolo and Mrs. Content Guy were horrified by the idea that Mel Gibson would be mentioned in the book because of his anti-Semitism. So the chapter ended up being about Big instead.

But the point was the same.

And thanks for giving me yet another excuse to shamelessly plug the book.
Not that I need one...
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