Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Always on Sale

Having a sale is an easy way for an advertiser to catch the attention of prospective buyers. Here in Oxford, it seems like every store or restaurant is in a constant state of discount. While this may be a result of the many tourists who frequent Oxford streets in the daytime, it does lead me to think about why stores would be constantly selling items as part of a sale. The rise of the online marketplace certainly has something to do with this, but discounts can be seen everywhere.

One restaurant on George Street actually offers half off of pizza at all times. Why wouldn't the restaurant just have lower prices instead of constantly being discounted? It seems like a marketing ploy to just always be giving the customer a "good" deal.  Is it unethical of an establishment to promote an item as on sale if the price is consistently the same?


  1. This is quite interesting that you mention this, because back in the US, JC Penny is going through a marketing makeover in which they take the exact opposite route. Instead of artificially inflating their prices to later put them on sale, their new slogan involves something along the lines of never needing sales because the prices are originally low. I think this route puts the integrity back into marketing. There is something truly honest about presenting straightforward prices, and not resulting to gimmicks like sales. As Sue Unerman would say, tell the truth! It would be interesting to see these two opposing market strategies play out and determine who comes out on top.

  2. I work in retail and can attest firsthand that this phenomenon definitely happens and seems to work. It might be deceptive, but at the same time there are a lot of psychological approaches to marketing. It feels really good to get a great deal even if it is only a perceived great deal. I feel like as long as the "sale price" isn't greater than what the original price would be, what's the harm in giving people a little something to be happy about? That being said, there are other companies besides JC Penney drawing attention to this tricky marketing. Walmart comes to mind with their price check. I also seem to recall a company who allow their customers to look up competitor prices at the store before committing to buying a home supply such as a washing machine. I don't foresee this marketing strategy disappearing anytime soon, but just like one must be media literate, one must be skeptical of a deal that seems too good to be true. While a "Buy One, Get Two Free" deal seems awesome, if you think about what the company would lose if the items were priced at market value, then you should be skeptical of whether or not the prices have been elevated to give the illusion of savings.