Leveraging the Tough Times

I keep reading about all these retailers (and being subjected to their marketing) who are totally trying to spin the economic crisis. And really, who can blame them? The most interesting ones are the seemingly “luxury” items who are still trying to get you to part with your money.

A WSJ article recently talked about some UK retailers who are using the term “credit crunch” in their advertising – and doing pretty well with it. Selfridge’s department store is hawking a Credit Crunch snack mix that has become one of their top 3 confections sold in-store. And we’ve all seen the barrage of ads focused on small budgets (Wal Mart; aside here: they have been touting value in their brand for years and their current ads suggest they have been the ones “doing this all along.” Nice.), deeply discounted items, value for the money, and sales, sales, sales. I even got an email marketing piece from a very high end men’s store here in Seattle, ackowledging the economic conditions and saying, essentially, we care so much about you as a community we are having a sale on all current merchandise next week – just in time for Christmas.

There are some great deals to be had out there. I would say the only caveat would be if your brand is a high-end, luxury product, you want to spin it in a way that won’t tarnish your hard-fought brand image. It’s much better to talk about a sale, or a “secret treat for valuable customers” or the like, rather than looking like your products or services are so worthless, you’re willing to slash the price. Now I know the reality is you have to stay in business and keep selling, but just do it carefully so you don’t erode your brand when the market stabilizes again. This means choosing the right words and emotion in your campaigns. After all, we can’t all be Wal Mart, who is probably going to do pretty well given the market conditions. They have been honing the cheaper, value-brand image for a long time and it may be the one thing that saves them in what promises to be a pretty dsismal holiday shopping season.

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