Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Consumer Insight : Please Play it Straight

Today, I got an email from an Indian e-retailer announcing a 50% value-back offer on purchase of any product from their website in the month of February. Greedy as Iam, I decided to check out the website which is owned by a premier media company.

As usual, all these offers comes with the ubiquitous term " Conditions Apply". Of course the company is definitely offering a 50% value back offer but as a consumer, it pays to know a little math.

Here is how the offer works.

When you buy a product from the website, the value-back offer is not given to the customer in cash but by Gift Certificates. The gift certificates are of value Rs 500, Rs 200 and Rs 100.

Ok so far so good.

Here comes the catch..

These gift certificates carry a minimum order value....

That means , a customer has to purchase ( again) a product of a minimum order value inorder to redeem this certificate.

For redeeming Rs 500 gift certificate, you have to make an additional purchase of Rs 2500.
For Rs 200, the additional purchase requirement is Rs 1000 etc.
And these certificates are valid only till March.

Further , you cannot club two gift certificates together.

If I purchase a product worth Rs 10,000,I would have got coupons worth Rs 5000. But if I wanted to redeem those coupons, I must purchase products worth Rs 25000 in the next month.

Frankly speaking, these sales promotions may do more harm to the marketer because there will be customers who may fall into this trap and then repent having given into the greed.Those customers may never come back to the website for purchase.

Is it beneficial to the company ?

In one way, such " Big " offers will prompt many consumers to visit the website. So the site benefits from the traffic generated by such offers. There are also chances that these consumers get attracted by either the price or merchandise and thus becoming a regular user.

In my personal opinion, these offers is akin to exploiting the greed of consumer. It pays more to be playing straight to the consumer. Give a straight discount or a plain cash-back offer rather than offers which puts the consumer into a trap . Make him feel happy about a bargain purchase.If he gets a bargain, he will come back for sure when ever he has money.

In this period, where consumers are wary about making big ticket purchases , these offers lure them into parting with their valuable cash. But if they feel that they got a raw-deal, the consequences will be terrible for the marketer's long term brand equity.

The primary aim of a marketer is to create a customer NOT making a sale.