The powerful strategy of 'promotions'

The Diwali bonanza lucky draw saw Mr Sharma driving home a car. In a soft drink campaign, Rahul won a ‘dinner with an actress’. ‘Best things at never-before prices’ in a huge banner of XYZ brand attracts your attention as you enter a mall. And, inside the mall, sales men distribute leaflets and handouts.  We are all familiar with such types of promotional campaigns, which are, in fact, popular and recent ways of advertising and promoting products.

Today, retailers have learnt about consumers’ psyche and know what clicks whom and how. Instead of you walking into shops, shops are walking up to your doorstep by way of contests and campaigns promising you an audience with celebrities whom you dreamed of, a substantial amount of money in a lucky draw or another offer. By nature, consumers are inquisitive about products and, at the same time, eager to learn about the unknown product. Retailers are aware of this and, in a mad race to grab attention of consumers, they resort to various marketing and promotional tools that catalyse footfalls and, consequently, sale figures. Retailers need making their brand popular and cash counters ringing. Acting as a bridge between the brand and the consumer, promotional campaigns and advertisements serve towards fulfilling this need. According to Mr Kapoor, Chairman and Manager Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd,  “Promotional campaigns are part of marketing strategies followed by brands to popularise their products. Promotions contribute to increasing the sales and they are more and above the normal marketing strategies. Brand marketing is a process that includes advertisements, footfall management, pricing and distribution while promotions are a part of the whole.” Advertising is an audible and visual means through which brands communicate their products and build an interest in the target audience.  A promotional campaign gives a live experience and builds a rapport with the audience and turn prospective consumers into buyers. To give shoppers a brand experience, there is no better place than malls. Catering to different brands and merchandises, malls generate maximum footfalls in terms of casual window shoppers or serious buyers. Brands employ different ways of promotion and make consumers aware of their products. These ways or promotional strategies, depending upon brands and kind of services offered, may be lucky draws, free service for a day or specific hours usually called ‘happy hours’, coupon system and valuable cards offering different kinds of memberships. Mr Kapoor underlines the following promotional strategies in malls and inside stores:

  • Mobile promotional strategies – This includes moving of trolleys inviting people to visit stores, giving handouts and encouraging shoppers to participate in lucky draws.
  • Static promotional strategies – One thing is to get the customer inside the store and another is to promote the brand by providing to prospective customers an experience of the brand and its offering (commonly known as ‘brand experience’). For instance, a Gillette outlet might have a shaving station; a candy store might be offering free candies to let customers taste the candies. Showcasing advertisements of brands in their respective outlets is another way of giving customers a brand experience.
  • Interactive promotional strategies – In the middle of the mall, a stage is set up for games, contests or model ramp walking and the like, depending on what you are promoting. In this way, the consumer is let to experience the brand through interaction and participation in an event or contest.

Since ages, promoting and making brands popular has always been there. Either in shops of high streets or large numbers of shops under one roof like mall, brands make their products popular.  With the availability of internet facility and high-tech software for intricate and complicated retail processes, there has been a boost in promotional techniques with improvement in old strategies and implementation of new ways. However, the motive has remained the same: generating footfalls and increasing sales figure. Comparing earlier times with the recent, Mr Kapoor says, “The stress on promotion has started increasing. Earlier, the focus was more on emotions and, now, it’s more on promotion. In the past, people bought what they liked. Now, shoppers are being lured, enticed and tempted with offers like ‘buy 2 and get 1 free’. The urgency to prepone sales or discounts or to get quick responses from customers is making brands to get into rigorous promotional strategies.”


Effect on sale figures

Promotion is a powerful strategy in making brands popular, inviting customers to ‘brand experience’ and, hence, encouraging sales. Brands spend a fairly huge amount of money in advertising and promotion so as to reach out to every corner of their target area. Mr Kapoor says “ Promotions definitely attract consumers and help create awareness and trials. But, it is not necessary that they generate ‘repeats’. Promotional strategies can get the attention of shoppers but repeats is dependent on the quality of the product and service.” Going into details, he adds, “ Promotional strategies cannot make happen repeats. The brand has to work and deliver services. Main purpose of promotional strategy is to make customers walk inside an outlet. Suppose that a discount offer attracts a prospective customer and makes him purchase a product. If the product is not good, the brand will not able, despite promotional campaigns, to generate repeats.”


A word of caution

There are brands offering never-before-prices and month-long discounts. Witnessing this scenario, Mr Kapoor, by way of advice, says, “Over-promotion would only dilute the brand equity and credibility. So, promotion strategies should be used with utmost caution and control. If a brand is constantly in sales offering discounts, the brand equity is disturbed and tends go down. My ‘brand-mantra’ is ‘if a brand is very often discounted, it is rarely counted.” Agreeing with him, Mr Gurpreet S Randhawa, Principal Consultant, Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd says, “ Ultimately, the consumer is getting his share. There is a very fine line between attractive promotions and 'over the board' promotions. Retailers have to be wary of the fact that ongoing 'discounting' promotions (too much 'in your face' visibility) will only harm them as the consumer will develop blind spots for such a multitude.”


Promotion unlimited

Commenting on promotional strategies, Mr Randhawa says, “I think, focusing much on promotions tends to make retailers run a loss on margins. If they have a strong CRM in place, they can stand to gain a lot in the long run.” Companies apply innumerable promotional strategies to put their brands first and foremost. But, what counts most in the long run is the quality of products and services. Promotions are modes or ways of keeping customer’s interest intact. Companies offering services and products worth customer’s money will be the ones who will go on and survive stiff competitions in the market. So, there are loads of lucky draws to be won! 

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