Retain customers in a recession without slashing prices

Since my post on the recession back in Oct 08, many retailers have decided to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Overt and subtle references to the economy in email marketing are now widespread.

Savvy brands have taken the opportunity to gain customer goodwill by running recession themed creative. As put it back in October, “We feel your pain”.

Below are some strategies for battling the weak economy without slashing prices. As Abercrombie’s CEO recently stated,

“Promotions are a short-term solution with dreadful long-term effects.”

The Investment buy: {view email}

The investment argument 

This email from menswear retailer Brooks Brothers is a reprint of a forties ad. It stresses the “real value” of an item lies in how it holds up over time.

They state, ”The most economical are those that are made to last and to look well as long as they hold together.” 

Stressing quality over quantity is a persuasive agrument for luxury retailers, who risk reducing prices so much they lose their exclusivity.

Avoid trends: {view email}

recession themed emails

It can be costly keeping up with fashion trends which last a season. Try promoting classic, “Trend-Proof” styles.

recession themed emails

Capsule Wardrobe: {view email}

Marketing in a recession

I’ve seen an increase in apparel retailers promoting capsule wardrobes.  It’s economical as it relies on only a handful of versatile items, which you can mix & match.

Like the sofa ads on TV, Spiegel also promotes a deferred payment scheme, “Buy today & make no payments until July 2009″.

Shop strategically

In the Closet: Recession Special

This video featured in a GQ email back in Dec is one of my personal favorite responses to the recession. Tips such as buying a reversable jacket are practical and delivered in a fun format. The two presenters suggest you shop strategically instead of reducing your clothing budget.

Buy American: {view email}

The subject line of this email was,”Take comfort in American made”. Protectionism has been in the news lately, many people blame the loss of U.S. jobs on outsourcing. Room&Board state, “85 percent of our furniture and accessories are made in America”. They even provide a map so you can find out were each piece of furniture is made.

Just like eco-friendly or fair trade products, support for American Made can influence consumers buying decisions.  I think it was a timely reminder by Room&Board.

Marketing in a recession

DIY - Offer a soloution: {view email}

I like how Ocado acknowledge that shoppers are cutting back. The email states, “Helping you to trim your grocery bill without cutting corners”. In this email they show you how to make your own fish fingers rather than buy pre-made.

This should gain them customer loyalty while still selling the featured ingredients.

Marketing in a recession

Push your low price point merchandise: {view email}

The email states, “Big on impact, small on price”. Anthropologie gathers together items under $100, catering to shoppers who can no longer afford big ticket items. Retailers such as CB2 and Neiman Marcus have sent out similar emails.

Marketing in a recession

Humor and empathy: {view email}

I know, not all of you can carry the credit crunch tote. Still it made me laugh when I saw it and it clearly positined Paul Smith on the side of main street. 

Marketing in a recession  

Before you drive your brand (and profit margins) into the ground with deep discounts give some of these strategies a try. If you have any to add I’d love to hear them. I’m on Twitter @stylecampaign


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