Why Most Promotions Are A Waste Of Money | Greg Hoyos

50 THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN 50 YEARS OF MARKETING

#13

By Greg Hoyos

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday April 12, 2018 – All across the Caribbean, promotions are popular with marketers. Every week it seems, someone is running a promo or contest somewhere.

But I’ve learned that many promotions are not the answer to every issue. New product introduction? Let’s have a promotion. Sales low? Let’s run a contest. Trade giving us trouble? Let’s launch a blitz. And I’m not even talking about retail stores like Courts and Standard’s, which switch from one activity to the next without a break.

Promotions have become a plaster for every sore.

We are one of the few regions in the world which run contests at Christmastime. There’s no good reason for this, just habit. And since everyone does it at the same time, the confusion is tremendous.

But here is the main point: consumers don’t care. Let me repeat: consumers don’t care.

All our research and experience shows that few consumers, if any, alter their shopping habits because a promotion is on. If I buy Tide detergent, I’m not going to change just because Breeze is offering me a chance to win a trip somewhere. Promotions, like advertising, appeal most to the buyers you already have. They are a trumped-up form of rewarding your existing consumers, and not much else.

Something else our experience shows: People who shift with promos are usually uncommitted shoppers (churners), and they’ll follow the next one, too.

So, should we give promotions up? Yes and no. Yes, where it’s just another me-too activity. No, where there are tight, achievable, measurable objectives. But that takes marketing discipline; have you got it?

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Greg Hoyos is founder and chairman at GHA DDB. He started his first regional ad agency in 1970; has won five CLIOs (including the 1979 Worldwide Copywriting statue) and numerous Caribbean ADDYs; and is the author of ‘Marketing and Demand’ and ‘A History of Marketing in 32 Objects’. He can be reached at (246) 234-4110 or greg@greghoyos.com