Posts by Colm Murphy - New York

Round numbers rule at U.K. retailers

round-pound-2Over the past year, U.K. grocers have been swapping their 99-pence price tags for round-pound sales. A report from trade magazine The Grocer found that the four big supermarkets—Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s—increased the number of whole-pound promotional price tags by 150 percent in the past year. Tesco stores even feature a designated “pound shop.”

As noted in a BBC story, the 99p price tag has long been used as a sales tool to convey value, the theory being that when the brain sees an item at £3.99, it registers the first digit and tells you that three is cheaper than four. “But over time,” reports the BBC, “customers have become wary of marketing tricks and sometimes even believe that a round pound price reflects more straightforward business practices—an important perception when competing for spending in recessionary times.” David Lewis, research director at Mindlab International, also told the BBC that 99 is registered as a bigger number than a round one (even though, of course, the round number represents 100 pence), and round price tags are frequently perceived as being rounded down from higher, fractional numbers.

Bandwagon jumping at its most tenuous

sustar-gumA press release headlined “Kissing With Confidence This Valentine’s Day” is in need of more than just urgent editing help:

“Prioritise on what’s really important, especially with the credit crunch restraining your purse strings, so why not concentrate on what really makes a difference; like your smile, which research shows is one of the first things people notice about you. A smile costs nothing and could make someone’s day. Try it today and see how many people smile back.”

Since “Flashing a healthy and alluring smile could definitely help attract your Valentine and give you the confidence you need to kiss with confidence,” consumers are urged to invest in the battery-operated GUM Original White vibrating Toothbrush. At £11.73, however, it’s not entirely true that “a smile costs nothing.”

M&S playing in a different category

Marks & Spencer is inviting consumers to “Dine in for £10 with M&S this weekend,” positioning the retail chain as a comparable alternative to eating at a restaurant. The comparison with restaurant food cleverly works to elevate the quality perception of Marks and Spencer’s products while allowing the retailer to communicate a very strong value proposition. This allows consumers to maintain some of the feeling of eating out at a fraction of the price.