The Next giveaway sale (but you have to ask questions)

Next gift card and scarfNext announce better than expected results. Based on my experience, I wonder how, but they do make me smile.

I was given a jumper, from Next, as a Christmas present. Yesterday I went into Next in Reading to change it as it wasn’t quite right for me. I presented the jumper and the gift receipt and asked, “To what value of goods can I exchange this jumper?” The jumper ticket was scanned and I was told £14.

I then asked what the purchase price of the jumper was. The answer, elicited from the barcode on the gift receipt, was £28. So in fact, after asking, this was the value of goods I could exchange for. An interesting variation in value based on one question.

My selection was a shirt, in the sale at £8, and a scarf (not on a sale rail) ticketed at £20. The total was £28, so I was happy.

At the checkout, I was then asked how I wanted the balance. Apparently, the scarf was half price in the sale at only £10. I was duly issued with a £10 gift card as well. An extraordinary experience.

But well done Next on your unexpected sales success over Christmas. Read the BBC News: Festive joy for Next as sales rise.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Give up!

If your newsletter is just about your new website it’s probably time to give up.

It was definitely time for me to unsubscribe from their mailing list.

Tagged with: , , ,

Be your biggest competitor to survive

startup-white-boardHow does a company fail? To borrow a phrase from Hemingway, two ways: “gradually and then suddenly,” says Kellogg.

I met some people today who seemed to be making relatively simple projects very complicated. In fact, everything seemed to be moving forward slowly for them; delivering late and over budget. They were from a business that has been around longer than most of its competitors.

Earlier this week I was talking to another business, a start-up. Everything they were doing was pared back to just what was needed for the immediate future…no more and no less. They have to work that way to satisfy their customers and also to move on, really quickly, to the next thing.

I know which of these two businesses I would prefer to invest in.

Another distinguishing difference between these two businesses is the amount of time they spend with their customers. The start-up, by my estimate, is investing more than fivefold the amount of time per employee talking to their marketplace.

Legacy and established businesses must set out to think and behave like their competitors, to be their own competitor and to replace their services and products with better versions that are fit for the future. If they don’t do it, their start-up competitors will gradually, and then suddenly, kill them off.

There is a good paper from Kellogg, Northwestern University, that talks about these points and more. >>> read the paper

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top blog posts of 2017

Over the last year, these are the most viewed posts on my blog:

  1. Dinner in the 70s
  2. What are the average earnings in the UK
  3. Different approaches to pricing
  4. One Sheet TV advert
  5. Superdry UK success story
  6. Wii on your television and the BBC wins
  7. Great (and bad) straplines
  8. Henry Gordon Selfridge said what?
  9. What brand do you most admire and why?
  10. Are wheelie bins advertising media space?


Is Black Friday good for UK retailers?

Black Friday - retail madnessWe seem all too happy to follow US fads; Halloween and “have a nice day” continue to grate on me. One of our latest adoptions is Black Friday. I set out to look at the impact on retail profits and the issues I found shouted out cautionary notes to all retailers.

My starting point was the feeling that the whole thing is a con, isn’t it? How can the retailer afford to discount by an average of 23% (source: when, for example, department stores only make 3.2% net profit (source: Are they ripping me off the rest of the year? Should I only shop on Black Friday?

In the US there seems to be no stopping the steady growth of Black Friday sales. Average sales growth on Black Friday is 3.5% per year for the last decade (source: The UK growth was about 20% this year.

The issues that should put off many a retailer are greater than just lost profits. This is what Eden Dwek of KPMG had to say about Black Friday:

Aside from the clear hurdles such as ensuring stock availability and suitable sales staff, the ripples of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are seen by retailers in the weeks that follow, as impulse purchases are returned and items damaged during delivery are replaced. Above all, the biggest hurdle for most companies is around maintaining website continuity; as unresponsive pages will send social media into overdrive and can cause short-term revenue loss and long-term reputational damage. (source:

Negative brand impact is a less obvious, but real, issue for retailers. At the same time as losing money, a retailer can devalue their brand. That doesn’t sound good, does it? The reality is that brutal discounting changes the profile of a brand’s customers, and not for the better. See the article at TranslateMedia. At the extreme, it is estimated that as many as one in five sales are being sold on (source:

There’s also some evidence that some of these mercenary consumers may be engaging in retail arbitrage – selling the discounted goods on for a profit.

In summary, Black Friday appears to be bad for profit, bad for the brand, can equate to wholesaling not retailing, and doesn’t make the customers love the brand. But I wholly expect it will grow again next year, but without my help.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Annoying verbal platitudes

Annoying verbal platitudesThe umpteenth person this year just said, “Enjoy,” as they delivered my order to me. Is that a request or an instruction? Whatever it was, was she thinking about what she was saying? I doubt it. I suspect it was just an annoying verbal platitude.

I then read this wonderful letter (left). What a great response to the, “Have a nice day,” garbage some people come it with. Well done Peter Ustinov.

What I need is the same quality of response to the request or instruction for me to enjoy my coffee, drink or meal. Any suggestions are welcome.


Tagged with: , , , , ,

You can complain when it suits us

Boeing 747 flying out of the sunHelp me, please. I’m trying to decide if this is ethical or fair trading. I would love your opinion. Read on…

I was looking at a UK based holiday company online. They are conveniently available 7 days a week including bank holidays. In fact, they are even open for our calls until 20.00 on weekdays. That is if you want to spend money and buy a holiday from them.

Now, if a customer wants to complain, the convenience evaporates; calls to the complaints team will only be answered Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 17.00. This is of course at the time most customers are working to earn the money to buy the holidays.

As a policy this makes me feel uncomfortable. What’s your opinion on this? Am I being unfair?

Tagged with: , , , ,