You’ve probably noticed that ‘Buy one get one free’ and ‘2 for 1’ deals seem to be disappearing from high-street stores. Well, you’re not imagining it.  Market research firm IRI recently revealed there’s been a 25% decrease in the number of special offer products available in store. The average number of grocery lines on promotion has also fallen – and is now at its lowest rate in 10 years!

According to one study, this means that UK shoppers will receive £3.7bn less in savings on their shopping. But why are we seeing such a large drop in these promotions? And is it really as bad as it sounds for the consumer?

Where Have All The Promotions Gone?

There are lots of reasons why some in-store promotions have fallen by the wayside. First, some retailers have had pretty bad press for inflating the shelf value of certain products to make their price promotions seem more appealing. Tsk, tsk.

At the end of the day, all shoppers really want is for retailers to provide them with clear, honest pricing. That probably explains why the popularity of bargain supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi has gone through the roof in recent years.

And other retailers are definitely taking note. The ‘big four’ supermarkets of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are now facing loads of pressure to sort out their pricing and promotions. Slowly but surely, they’re starting to realise that ‘discounts and deals’ are old news – and that everyday low pricing is now the name of the game.

Put Customers First Or Lose Them Forever

So does this spell the end for promotions as we know it? Not at all. The truth is that today’s consumers are less loyal to specific retailers and brands than they used to be – so promotions actually have an even more important role when it comes to keeping hold of customers.

But where should they start? Well, retailers first need to think about whether their super-slash price offer is really going to provide any value for the customer. Short-term price promotions have become a thing of the past; instead, retailers should go for consumer promotions that put customers’ wants and needs first.

Basic consumer promotions will include things like product guarantees, ‘try me free offers’ and cashback schemes. Other options might include prize promotions, social media challenges and branded online games.

For retailers, this is where the focus needs to be. It’s time to swap out old-fashioned price drops with consumer promotions that invite customers to interact with a brand. That could mean entering them into a prize draw or getting them to submit their details online in exchange for coupons or other special perks.

It’s a win-win situation for sure. Consumers benefit from getting all kinds of special deals from the retailer, and the retailer gets a clearer insight into their customers. This way, brands can make their marketing strategy more targeted, which will make their relationships with customers even closer.

It’s Time To Walk The Walk

There are loads of different consumer promotions that retailers can consider, but they’re only worth doing if they’ll actually change consumer behaviour, whether that means upping a consumer’s loyalty to the brand, changing the way they use a product, or even how frequently they buy it.

So, step one is deciding what retailers want to achieve with their consumer promotion. Once they have this information – as well a solid understanding of the market, their target audiences and how and when they like to buy stuff – retailers will be able to create a consumer promotion that customers actually get excited about. There’s no room for any mistakes here: consumers can be very fickle, and retailers can lose them in the blink of an eye if a promotion doesn’t appeal to them.

For all these reasons, retailers need to think of their promotions as an ongoing conversation with their customers. Retailers can change their customers’ behaviour by giving them a reward that they actually value – which keeps them coming back for more – which gives retailers the chance to create even more targeted promotions. And round and round she goes.

One thing is for sure: the average shopper is now choosing low prices over familiar brands – but in-store promotions are far from dead. Retailers just need to look beyond short-term discounts and think about offering creative, interactive consumer promotions that will keep customers coming back for more, again and again.