Promoting Products Without Putting Them On Sale. Three Easy Methods You Should Adopt, and Why

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
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Here is a common issue. Many retailers believe that although sales drive consumers to purchase in the short term, this kind of activity diminishes perceived brand value over time. KPMG and SPSL Retail Think Tank wrote a whitepaper on this very topic in 2008, in which study conclusions supported this concept.

So what’s a retailer to do? Retailers know that promotions work. Marketing gurus say that “Marketing influences minds, while promotions influence behavior.” So, happy thoughts are fine and dandy, but retailers want consumers to pull out their wallets! How does one promote their products without putting them on sale?

Following are three of the most effective ways we’ve seen to promote without technically placing products “on sale”:                              

  • PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT – Feature a single product, or class of products, and explain why the product is so wonderful! Our client Cameron Hughes executes this beautifully, featuring various wines and “sampler” packs individually. The folks at Cameron Hughes are always careful to time each promotion to run concurrently on their various marketing channels (customer emails, website, social media, etc.). Remember that although you know every product in your store, most of your customers don’t. They have likely missed many of your products. And while a customer may be loyal to just a single product, if you introduced them to something else, and explained why that product is so magnificent and useful, they might easily increase their patronage to you.
  • DISCOUNT SHIPPING – This is a simple little trick. If you offer free or discounted shipping, technically you’re still keeping products at full price, so there is no decrease in perceived product value. Many of our winery clients offer free or discounted shipping with the purchase of a case of wine, and Escential Lotions and Oils offers free shipping with a $75 purchase. Promote by time frame, to create a sense of urgency. Or, promote by quantity. With quantity, you can stimulate your customers to purchase more. But make sure you make this a reasonable and logical number. For example, asking a customer to purchase 100 beads is okay, but 100 shirts is not likely to drive sales unless you’re selling wholesale. Check out your sales volume of a particular product, and make this quantity just a little stretch beyond what happens naturally.
  • BUNDLE UP – Create a promotional bundle of products. Keep your critical brand item(s) full price, and discount or add in the other items in the package completely free. This is potentially a good use for your company’s promotional branded items, or for adding in items that work with your brand, but that you don’t sell yourself. See this in action with client Magnolia Bakery’s Cupcake Club. Club membership not only includes shipments of their world famous cupcakes, but other covetable Magnolia brand freebies.

These are just a few ideas, but they are certainly ideas that are working! Mix these into your marketing plan and grow your sales, while keeping your brand strong and happy.


Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about helping people and businesses thrive.