demand, discounting, marketing, profit margin

The Price is Right or Is It?

notebook with dollar sign outline
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With easy access to comparable prices frequently in one’s pocket, the sport of paying as little as possible for products has become all consuming.  Add to that the constant inundation of email with coupon discounts, direct mail with coupon discounts, sites dedicated to accumulating discount coupons (and tracking behavior) and there is a free for all on the selling floor, a real FOMO on the rock bottom price. The marketing tool box is centered around wrenching prices vs. building and reinforcing a brand.

While this was in full swing during the holiday season, retail businesses were reaching the finish line in that race to the bottom.  Stores simply packed up and disappeared between Christmas and New Years leaving gaping holes in malls throughout the US.  The disappearing continues.

You get what you pay for.  And you pay for what you value.  If your customer doesn’t want to pay enough for a product to keep a business viable, natural selection goes to work and the business is “Darwined” out of existence.   Produce something unique.  Tell a compelling story.  Do your homework and find your audience.  And make sure the price is right to produce a sustainable profit or don’t get into business.

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demand

Creating Demand

Bicycles

As an economics major, the very first lessons involve supply and demand.  When demand increases, supply should rise to meet the demand without flooding the market with excess.  If that happens, the product becomes ordinary and the price lever is utilized in an effort to reduce the supply before demand evaporates altogether.

Designers begin demand creation by developing inspiring products, often working with merchandising and marketing teams for input.  Flattering silhouettes.  Appealing colors.  Uniquely useful items.  Faster, smarter, better.  Items that make a statement about the person consuming them.  Without exposing those things to an audience, the creation has no purpose.  Merchants are constantly searching for the fresh, new “stuff” with a target audience, price tolerance, profit margin and end use in mind, often guided by details in financial plans and working with merchandise planning teams.  Marketers are critical in getting the story of those products in front of the key audiences using both visual and analytical components for the best ROI.  All together, they create demand while walking the razor’s edge of the right amount of supply as well as product expansion opportunities.  When the demand for the supply has begun to downtrend, price reduction can be used responsibly to liquidate the excess quantities.

This all leads to the right product, at the right price, in the right quantities at the right time.  The ultimate endgame for creating demand and maximizing profit.  Otherwise, why bother.  Driving demand with the hi/lo pricing game may drive short term results, but will ultimately reduce profitability and shorten the life of a product prematurely.

demand, merchandising

Content + Commerce

In a prior life, my role was to guide the selection and presentation of very specific product to a passionate enthusiast base.  Their positive response would drive profit and revenue to the business. Content was aspirational photography and detailed instructions and supplies in the same category of product but vastly varied aesthetics, size and difficulty levels. The challenge was telling a compelling story to entice and convince the viewer that they needed multiple versions of the product category because they would be missing out on something great if they didn’t pounce on it. Whether the offerings be colorways, patterns, specific prints, techniques, or an exclusive deep black fabric, they needed to light a creative fire.

Another adventure was in the world of childbirth and early childhood education, combining that with the best “stuff” in the business.  Working with IBCLCs, nurse midwives, early childhood education experts, child safety experts, and many others, we not only conducted classes online and in our center communities, but we culled through all of the unnecessary and unsafe product offered in a vacuum to uninformed parents and their friends and families.  Content was king, but commerce sealed the deal.  You could see the shoulders relax in a father who had been sent on an emergency errand to pick up a breast pump part when he walked into one of our locations.  Or the groups of brand new mothers heading out of a classroom with their babies and new friends in the exact same boat.

What is your content for your commerce?  Do your merchants, marketers and planners know how to set that stage for the theater that is retail?  Think about your business and ask yourself where that happens.  How does each channel function?  Do the product pages on your site provide inspiration, as well as all of the details that a customer needs to pull the trigger?  Do your emails or direct mailings drive traffic to all of your channels?  How are they richer in content than your competition?  Is there a sense of urgency created ?  Limited quantities, unique product properties?  Something beyond price?  I hope so.  Without the perceived value of information and inspiration, who cares.