Should retailers use the ‘R’ word?

Today a retailer asked me, ”Should I mention the economic downturn in my email marketing?”. On the one hand, retailers are worried about reminding customers to tighten their purse strings. On the flip side, its the elephant in the room so why not offer some relief.

Here are 5 retailers who decided to tackle the issue head-on:

Bailout approved - Restoration Hardware

{ Sent 10/01/2008 - Subject Line: Bailout approved }

Click here to view email

Click to view email - Retailers and the recession

This patriotic looking email offers a $100 voucher, redeemable towards orders of $400 or more. So really just $25% off your purchase. I wonder how this email would have performed against a simple 25% off message, without the financial bailout tie-in.

They re-sent the same email out Oct 2nd - day of the vice presidential debate -  with the subject line, “No Debate”.

Inflate the economy - K.B. Toys

{ Sent 10/02/2008  - Subject line: Save Up to 60% on Fall Toys - Help Stimulate the Economy }
Click here to view email

Retailers and teh recession

K.B Toys leads with the heading, Inflate the Economy. They obviously agree with President Bush’s famous,  “Go shopping more” speech. Hard for a retailer to appear sincere with this message…

Re-think how we spend our money - Bag, Borrow or Steal

{ Sent 10/03/2008  - Subject line: Great styles. Hundreds of great new prices. }
Click here to view email

Bag, borrow or steal email

Dear Anna,

We understand that the current economic situation is causing all of us to re-think how we spend our money on “little luxuries.” And that’s why we’re reducing as many of our rental prices as we can. We’ve made several hundred adjustments already, with more to come - Bag, Borrow or Steal email message.

We feel your pain -

{ Sent 10/03/2008  - Subject line: 9 Easy Ways to Add More Delight To Your Life! + Jewelry Sale}
Click here to view email

Delight recession email

We understand. Well actually we’re not sure we totally understand everything that’s been going on in the news…but we feel your pain. Sometimes there’s nothing like a little retail therapy to clear up the doldrums.”

When the economy kicks we kick back harder - Marshalls

{ Sent 10/09/2008 - Subject Line: Take an Extra 25% off Clearance Items at Marshalls at Studio City Plaza }

Click here to view email

Marshalls marketing in a recession

“Because of the price of gas we do not want to be running all over town… we’re making fewer trips out.”

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Some of my brick-and-mortar clients have been buying gas gift cards and giving them out in email marketing promotions…the message is, “Visit our store and we’ll pay your gas”.

The same is true for my online clients, they have been playing up free shipping and no gas costs eBags sent out an email campaign last June, “Paying too much to get from here to there? Skip the mall we’ll ship it to you for free”. 

Gas prices in retail email

More people are shopping online, taking fewer trips out, researching online to make sure items are in-stock or visting large stores for one-stop shopping.

So what’s a retailer to do?

Any suggestions?


Retail consultant, Bill Pearson, has some timely advice for independent retailers. Read his post “What’s a Retailer to do?


One Response to “Should retailers use the ‘R’ word?”

  • bill pearson
    October 4th, 2008 11:04

    i have several clients trying different things this weekend… so we’ll see… best story i heard this week was about a store announcing the arrival of a new, hot denim line and the response was great… like old times… so, as the gov. of alaska says… “i’ll get back to ya”…