Selling to the frugal


Consumers are clearly developing a taste for frugality, as we discovered while researching our story in this week’s issue of Maclean’s. That much is known. What companies and marketers have yet to figure is how to navigate the new era of thrift.

As the economy continues to sour, marketers are rethinking the best offers and incentives to dangle in front of a newly budget-conscious public. But figuring out what offers will resonate is a tough task, with the media landscape already littered with companies crowing about discounts and good values.

As the WSJ story points out, companies that opt for price-based promotions run the risk of training customers to expect more for less. That’s exactly what happened to General Motors. With Japanese competitors stealing market share a few years ago, the company responded by offering rebates and huge discounts, until customers refused to pay full price for a Pontiac. GM has tried to ween customers off the deals, but it’s been a tough slog, and the looming recession is only making that task harder.

Still, don’t be surprised to see plenty of sales geared to belt-tighteners.

Well, Whadayaknow.

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Selling to the frugal

  1. This is a dissertation on retailers finding new ways to say “Sale!” as consumers become more price-conscious? So Sears puts stuff on sale, and you can link to it, and it means what, exactly?

    The lowest price is the law. Everyday low prices. Nobody beats our prices. We’ll beat any competitor’s price. Join our Costco warehouse club to save. Summer seat sale. Ladies’ night. Buy-one-get-one-free. Boxing Week now before Christmas! No reasonable offer refused. Pay the US$ price on the book cover, in Canadian $. Weekly flyers multiplying like rabbits on my front porch, for years.

    When, exactly, were retailers IGNORING price in their marketing efforts?

  2. If people are finally defining themselves as more than a consumer, hooray! We do not have to be the willing lemmings going over the cliff of living to buy.

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