Archive for marketing suits

Jos. A Bank – Numbing Promotional Sales

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2010 by matts76

In this installment, I want to cover the increasingly frequent promotions that I’ve heard on the radio as well as received via e-mail, from Jos. A Bank, the men’s clothier.  Per company information that’s listed on Scottrade.com, the clothier generates business through their retail stores and direct marketing efforts.  I’ve shopped at the company’s stores in the past as have friends and family.  However, recently, I’ve noticed and have become numb to frequent marketing messages from the company that all promote deep discounts, BOGO or buy X get X free promos, and so on.  As an example, I’ve included a shot of my e-mail trash box, showing promotions from the company that arrive on nearly a daily basis.  All offer some form of deep discount or saving, so, as a consumer, I’ve pretty much tuned them out because of their frequency.  These days, I check the box next to the e-mails without even reading them and they are deleted.

Worse, from a marketers standpoint, the constant bombardment of sales and discounts has tarnished my impression of the clothing brand and the perceived quality of suits, etc. that are sold.  For example, if I purchase a suit and get two or more for free by doing so, what is the quality and workmanship involved?  It could be very good, but, such offers make me think “hmm…they can barely give these things away…” and ultimately rethink my purchasing options.  Suits are a relatively high involvement purchase, as they’re frequently part of “first impression” scenarios, whether they are interviews, business meetings, presentations, etc.  Most consumers fear embarrassment in its various forms, so avoiding purchases that could cause this is normal.  Offering consistently deep discounts can cause an impression that the quality isn’t very good, so, offering volume discounts makes up for it.  This isn’t necessarily true, but can be perceived that way.

The marketing messages in this case also get lost amongst marketing “noise.”  As a consumer, I know that if I miss the current promotion, another is right on its heels, so, there is no urgency to respond to the message and there is nothing unique that is being offered.  The screenshot from the Jos. A Bank site reveals a great example of this.  The homepage offers two shirts, two pants, and two sweaters for FREE if a sportcoat is purchased.  This promotion is on top of the multitude of BOGO e-mails I’ve received weekly, and nearly daily, from the store.

Again, I also question the quality of items that are offered in multiple quantities at no, or severely discounted, cost.  You know what they say about first impressions and the thought that if something is too good to be true, it probably is.  In this case, the offers are valid from a reputable company, but, as consumers, we’re trained to be skeptics when marketing offers like these present themselves.

While Scottrade has shown that the company’s stock has taken a tumble in recent past, overall, performance remains strong, so, something is working.  In the current economic climate, those shopping for suits and similar clothing no doubt appreciate the incentives for purchasing that has probably helped the strength of Jos. A Bank’s performance.  The company recently was named to a Forbes top 100 list as well, which gives further kudos for strong performance.

From a marketer’s perspective, I do wonder what the long term impact on the brand will be from so many relatively short term promotions.  To me, my perception has shifted from a quality retailer of men’s clothing to a discount mill that sells suits.  I tend to look elsewhere for important clothing purchases because I perceive other retailers to offer better quality and I’m willing to pay for it.  I wonder if I’m the exception, or, if other consumers are feeling this as well.  Feel free to comment.

The takeaways here include:

1.  Don’t discount or offer promotions too frequently – they lose their luster and impact and consumers grow “numb.”  If a consumer finds no need to respond because the promotions occur all the time, sales can suffer.  Instead, try to offer more seasonal, to-be-anticipated sales or promotions that are truly unique and that make customers count the minutes until they can take advantage.  Keep price points higher and perceived, and hopefully real, quality are appreciated. Additionally, it prevents customers from perceiving your brand as “discount” rather than higher-end.

2.  Turn down the volume on the “noise” – Be selective in the volume of marketing messages that are sent to customers, especially those who’ve opted in to e-mail promotion lists, to prevent your message from getting lost amongst the clutter.   As stated earlier, along with the shot of my inbox trash folder, constant promotions get lost and deleted without even reaching the intended consumers.

3.  High-involvement purchases are expected to have premium pricing, hence, the high involvement – Whether it’s a home, car, furniture, or a quality suit, high-involvement purchases tend to have higher prices, so, more research on the part of the customer is common.  That’s marketing 101.  So, if you sell said products, remember this when crafting marketing messages and promotions and keep them as high quality and valuable as the products you’re supposed to be selling.

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