Retail Redux

Written by Bill Tanzer


Easter sales are expected to be hopping this year, exceeding $16 billion, including candy, apparel and baskets. And although it’s only March, merchants are also banking on Mother’s Day sales to boost the bottom line. Consumers routinely look for sales and promotions, so it would be foolish to neglect marketing to your base this year for either holiday.

JC Penny sees things differently, perhaps. In my last post, I commented on the “Fair and Square” campaign launched by the national retailer, which is celebrating its 110th year in business. Doing away with coupons and discounts? We’re still in the process of seeing how that works. Most consumers love buying items on sale, for the perceived discount, and prefer being informed about upcoming sales events.

Consumers also love themed packaging which complements the product. As we all know, Coca-Cola dresses up its bottles with its famous rendering of Santa Claus every Christmas. (The modern image of Santa dates back to 1931 when artist Haddon Sunblom depicted Santa for ads in The Saturday Evening Post.) But every holiday has its own recognizable symbols, from Easter Eggs to Valentine’s Day hearts. Get themed, then get customized! It’s a way to stand out from the crowd.

Everything seems to be customizable these days. Credit cards have long been encouraging card holders to design their own cards, with family portraits and personal photos or selecting from a set of original artwork. Sneakers from well-known manufacturers can be customized to match a person’s style, creating a “mass produced” yet one of a kind pair of footwear. Even Pop-Tarts allowed consumers to purchase individualized boxes. Customers selected a flavor, chose a photo and typed a personal message onto a box of Pop-Tarts.

Not all ideas are going to take off like rocket ships. A few years ago, Scion encouraged owners to create a family crest or coat-of arms, by using an online graphics program. The idea was to create an image on your computer. That image could then be painted on your Scion or created as a window sticker. The website, Scion Speak, has since been dismantled, most likely because the market was too narrow. It only applied to Scion owners and not everyone wanted a coat of arms on their car.

But mostly everyone enjoys a beautifully wrapped gift. I mean, come on. Who hates receiving a gift, and who hates the wrapping paper? Only a scrooge. Personalizing presents is the name of the game!

March 27, 2012

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