Sales and discounts are nothing new. Coupons used to be the things that you cut out of newspapers and brought with you to the store to save $1.00 on a gallon of milk. It’s a long-standing marketing strategy that encourages people to buy one product over another, or to purchase now rather than later, because of some change in pricing. Simple.
But in this country we’ve taken that philosophy and expanded on it. We have stores where everything is always on sale. We have Groupon and LivingSocial offering up to the second deals, with huge discounts, on thousands of products and services every single day of the year. We have companies sending out promotional emails on a daily basis. We have free trials, and ad-supported free products and services.
Couponing used to be a strategy that a company would employ on their own products. Now there are companies whose sole purpose is to coupon other people’s products. Where is the value?
My boss tells a story of working as a photographer in Japan in the 1990’s. There, he noticed that the retail world, especially related to cameras, did not promote heavy discounts or sales of any kind. While visiting a camera store, he asked why that was. And the man behind the counter told him, we have a saying here, the man who sells me a refrigerator, his grandfather sold my grandfather ice.
There is a sense of pride in what you produce, and a sense of respect for the value of that product on behalf of the purchaser. Does that exist in the United States anymore?
My question to you is where can this coupon culture that we’ve created lead to? Once you discount something to a point, you’re losing money. If you’re selling something at an eternal discount, that’s just the new price. There is an end in sight. We can all feel it. The constant need for consumers to get everything they want for lower and lower cost is not sustainable.
How do we fix it?