October 6 ,2014 could have been a historical day for Flipkart but in reality, that day proved to be more of a PR nightmare than a marketing success. It may be true that on that day, the company would have emptied its inventory of many products but at the cost of a lot of goodwill .
The huge hype created by Flipkart and the subsequent backlash forces us to refresh some basics in managing expectations.
One of the classic theories related to expectation and subsequent satisfaction is Expectation-Confirmation Theory ( ECT) . The theory is no rocket science . It simply states that during the pre-purchase stage, the consumer forms expectations either by the conscious act of the marketer or through other means. After the purchase or service encounter, the consumer's satisfaction is decided on the perceived performance of whether the original expectations are confirmed.
Because of the equity established by Flipkart, the consumers expected that on that day
- They would get a fair bargain .
- The site would work perfectly.
- Orders would be fulfilled.
- Deal would be fair.
Getting a big bargain is a game. Consumers know that and wouldn't mind if the deal is taken by someone else - its a competition. That's why for many consumers, getting discounts is an ego-satisfying process. But when there are news about price tampering and deliberate price increases preempting the sale, the issue of fairness becomes dominant. It's here that Flipkart got the stick. Consumers were furious not because they didn't get the deal, they felt cheated because of the fairness- factor.
Here Flipkart simply took the billion day offer to stratospheric levels that even to the best of the intentions, it cannot be matched. Then in reality the entire sale became a nightmare.
The lessons learned has to be that marketers need to set realistic expectations ( common sense !). But some times common sense need to be emphasized.