Commentary

S.O.S.

Our brains are over-stimulated. Our wallets are shrinking and our waistlines are growing (no worries, there's definitely a deal for that). Our friendships with UPS delivery drivers are flourishing. And our definition of brand loyalty is changing as the deals pour into our inboxes. Now brand loyalty is the expectation from us that a brand will offer a deal in the next daily email from Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt City, Yipit, Yelp, etc.

Like boy-crazy teenage girls in high school, our affinity for one brand is replaced with another and soon by another and yet again by another. And it happens so fast we do not realize anything changed. Or when. Or even why.

Because of the kindness of so many brands, we're drowning in deals.

The kindness started out as a slow dribble, in newsletter form, providing us with information that was new and cool, almost even exclusive. The newsletters were useful and entertaining, and helped us form opinions. The information enabled us to develop loyalties, establish connections and identify with brands. The brands had a voice, a point of view and provided value.

Over time, many newsletters began to offer less substance and more merchandise, making it difficult at times to see the value of a brand stand for much more than price. And now, they are morphing into a flood of electronic Sunday circulars. Only it is not just Sunday, it's every day.

At a time when Millennials are seeking more time in the day, eager to spend that time with friends and family and hungry for experiences to share together with said loved ones, the deals are pretty valuable. They make it possible to do all of the things Millennial hearts desire, making life much richer.

However, the cost of the deal could make a brand have something to lose ... brand value. While we're indulging in a variety of new experiences, the value between us and the brand could become a dollar sign. Because, when you discount your brand, you run the risk of discounting your brand.

Similar to the chatter around how many Facebook friends one really has or needs, now that we have so much exposure to so many brands, how many do we really need in our lives?

So, here are a few thoughts on how to make brand value stand for more than a good deal:

  • Provide a way to aggregate and/or organize a range of personally selected deals beyond location into one place for easy sorting like Shop It To Me.
  • Instead of offering arbitrary deals, curate the content like "Freebies for Students with Good Grades" on Pocket Your Dollars or share deals with a specific target like Daily Hookup for gay men so it's clear why a discount is offered.
  • Create a ritual or occasion that enables one to associate something unique to the brand. For example, a restaurant partnering with a local dating service for deals on Wednesdays to guarantee a great "date night" or a source that offers participating brand deals to help spatula-challenged individuals improve their skills to make moms proud and become good cooks.
  • Use/ask for more information to enhance relevance and personalization like deals offered by bank partners (BillShrink) as a result of purchases in bank statements, e.g. you know I spend more time at Starbucks than with my family so offer a coffee deal.
  • Provide an element of prestige to help brands maintain their premiumness or stature like sharing them via an exclusive source like New York Magazine.

So, will you help, do we have a deal?

1 comment about "S.O.S. ".
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  1. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine, July 1, 2011 at 2:51 p.m.

    Great article! The recent proliferation of "Mommy Bloggers" and "Extreme Couponing" Blogs has led to a saturation of online media by deals and offers. Great for quick sales - not so good for building brand loyalty. ( i.e. an easily obtained one-time $2 off coupon for a frozen pizza is only going to tick me off when it won't allow me to print a 2nd coupon so I will just go on to the next offer.) Longer term offers would add to my loyalty.

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