Thursday, January 5

Can Promotion Reverse Brand Apathy?

Today I have another guest post from a student at The University of Kansas, as part of #Blogapalooza.  Here Natalie raises an age old question in marketing:  can short term promotions build brand loyalty?  Or as she calls it, can it reverse brand apathy?  Or does it merely encourage switching from deal to deal to get the latest "fix"?


What's your experience, Natalie?  Jim.


Yesterday my husband and I ventured out to the stores and I was reminded once again of our first clothes shopping experience together.  Dan, my husband, has never been a serious shopper or one to discriminate among brands.  For him, a shirt is a shirt.  It is something to cover you and keep you warm, not a statement of who you are or how you spend your money.  If a shirt has a label or imprint stating the name of the store from which it originated, Dan refuses to buy it.

If some are brand loyal, I would call Dan brand apathetic.  That is, unless there is a coupon or incentive involved.  Then, Dan is the most loyal customer I know.

The first time Dan and I went clothes shopping together, we went to Kohl's because I had a coupon for 20% off our purchase.  As my first experience shopping with Dan, it was curious to see him so excited about the sales and coupons.  In addition to the coupon I had, Kohl's was also having a store wide sale.  In Dan's eyes, it was such a deal -- we must buy more!  We ended up spending a little over $200 and, in the growing trend of shopping incentives, received $40 of "Kohl's Cash" for our next visit.  Upon leaving the store, I could see Dan's excitement from the shopping incentives.

"We saved over $100 and now we have $40 for the next time we go back," he said enthusiastically.  Blinded by how much we saved, Dan did not think twice about how much money we had spent.  He was hooked.

The next visit to Kohl's, Dan signed up for a store charge card.  He could not pass up the 15% off he saved on his purchase that day.  So, Dan received a charge card and discount, and in return, Kohl's received his personal information, buying habits, and repeat purchases.  He has since then become a loyal Kohl's customer and feels the urge to visit the store every time he receives a coupon or other incentive in the mail.

Since the Kohl's experience, I have noticed the incentive effect with Dan.  If a coupon or sale enters the equation, Dan will automatically go out of his way to shop at a specific store and spend more when he's there.  It is interesting to see how integrating simple shopping incentives into marketing communications increases customer loyalty, even when the product or service has not changed in any way.

- Natalie Long, student at The University of Kansas

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect
Professor at NYU

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