Sunday 21 June 2009

Second best sales promotion gives first rate results

I think it’s interesting how sales promotion is changing and the pace of change is quickening – yet some in the industry don’t get it.

In reviewing the latest Hula Hoops promotion, Ian Moore, Marketing Promotions and Incentives blogger and board member of the ISP gives his opinion on sales promotion generally stating:-

“The way I understand snack promotions is that if you can get the kids to raid the kitchen cupboard you've cracked it - that next pack might just be the one with the £20 note or the iPod inside - and, hey, what the heck? - you can always eat another pack to save it from going stale.  Next thing Mum's back at Tesco and sales are on the up.”hulahoop This is certainly an interesting take and I wouldn’t disagree with it in part.  The role of a good sales promotion is obviously to encourage that next purchase and hopefully to do this without actually giving that next purchase away in some form of buy one get one free.  It completely misses the point though that the role of a great sales promotion is to actually put some longevity into the process.

Whilst sales promotions are sometimes touted as a means of hitting this quarters numbers – just lifting sales today - I suspect there aren’t many brand managers that short term and most of them actually want to develop their brand - increasing and maintaining the penetration gains that sales promotions can bring.

So while Ian may think that a promotion is there to get the next pack consumed by stuffing it with a £20 note, in reality the sales promotion campaign should actually add value to the brand.  It should be as much about increasing sales and penetration tomorrow as it is about increasing them today.

Ian then goes on to say “But what if you can't afford a proper promotion like this?  Well, second best is to go for some sort of collector scheme, and accept the drawback that 90% of the population can't be bothered with garnering proofs of purchase.”

This comment really surprised me.  To think that some form of collector scheme is a poor relation to a instant win promotion is to completely misunderstand how these work and is shocking when you look at the success these generate.  Probably the best performing sales promotion of 2008 was Walkers Crisps and Brit Trips – a second best promotion apparently.

On continuing to review the Hula Hoops promotion, Ian then goes on to say “As far as I can tell, there's no POP requirement - other than you need a couple of Hula Hoops to make your movie - so on the face of it the brief had no sales objectives in its midst.  Leaving sales aside, then, all that really remains is awareness”.

Maybe, just maybe, what Hula Hoops is actually looking for is for people to spend time with the brand, spend time thinking about the brand, spend time speaking with others about the brand.  Maybe what they are looking for is advocacy.  I realise that this is slightly more long term than £20 stuffed in a bag of crisps, but the rewards can be much richer and will result in a sales uplift and more importantly a sales retention.

If Ian cared to have a look at the top performing FMCG brand website on Nielsen, it might come as a shock that this is CokeZone – a collector scheme – gathering more views and more dwell time than any other brand.  Some of the other top performers include Walkers – a collector scheme and Cadburys – online interaction through gaming.

It seems strange to me that members of the ISP, the organisation with a vested interest in promoting good sales promotion techniques don’t seem to get the changing landscape in sales promotion and are spending more time stopping people getting hold of money off coupons and “saving customers money” than recognising and encouraging brands which are pushing the boundaries.

garyThe latest Walkers scheme is a great promotion, but when viewed in context with their activity over the last couple of years, it’s clear to  see there is a longer term strategic plan here.  Combining different promotions together to acquire and then retain consumers, using engaging and interactive elements.

It exciting, it’s new and it works.

This isn’t second best – this is sales promotion at it’s best.