Monthly Archives: November 2015

When Is a “Sale” Not a Sale?

Unfortunately, many retailers misuse the term “sale”. And shoppers are often persuaded that a product is on sale even when it isn’t. [For our holiday shopping tips, please click here.]

As noted in Evans and Berman’s Marketing in the 21st Century: Price advertising guidelines have been set by the FTC and trade associations such as the Better Business Bureau. The FTC’s guidelines set standards of permissible conduct in these categories:

  • A firm may not claim or imply that a price has been reduced from a former level unless the original price was offered to the public on a regular basis during a reasonable, recent period of time.
  • A firm may not claim its price is lower than that of competitors or the manufacturer’s list price without verifying, via price comparisons involving large quantities of merchandise, that an item’s price at other companies in the same trading area is in fact higher.
  • A suggested list price or pre-marked price can’t be advertised as a reference point for a sale or a comparison with other items unless the advertised item has really been sold at that price.
  • Bargain offers (“free,” “buy one, get one free,” and “half-price sale”) are deemed deceptive if terms are not disclosed at the beginning of a sales presentation or in an ad, the stated regular price of an item is inflated to create an impression of savings, or the quality or quantity of a product is lessened without informing consumers. A firm cannot continuously advertise the same item as being on sale.
  • Bait-and-switch advertising is an illegal practice whereby customers are lured to a seller that advertises items at very low prices and then told the items are out of stock or of poor quality. Salespeople try to switch shoppers to more expensive substitutes, and there is no intent to sell advertised items. Signs of bait-and-switch are refusals to demonstrate sale items, the belittling of sale items, inadequate quantities of sale items on hand, refusals to take orders, demonstrations of defective items, and the use of compensation plans encouraging salespeople to use the tactic.

As Suzanne Kapner reported last week for the Wall Street Journal:

“Building complexity into product prices benefits retailers. It helps to cloud the transparency of online pricing, making it harder for shoppers to compare prices across chains. “’The more prices become convoluted, the less retailers will have to match lower prices offered by their rivals,’ said Simeon Siegel, an analyst with Nomura Holdings Inc.”

“And price has become a moving target. Amazon changed prices 666 times on 180 popular products sold from Nov. 1 through Nov. 19, according to Market Track, a price-tracking firm. That is a 51% increase in price volatility compared with similar products sold during the same period a year earlier. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ’s prices changed 631 times and Best Buy Co. ’s prices changed 263 times on similar products sold during the same period this year.”

Take a look at four deceptive practices highlighted by the Wall Street Journal. Click the image to see a larger view of the chart.


How Will YOU Pay for Your Holiday Shopping?

Interestingly, according to a recent survey of 1,000 people, 39 percent of holiday shoppers will pay for their gifts in cash, 32 percent will pay with a debit card, and only 22 percent will pay by credit card. Three percent will pay by check.
Take a look at this Wall Street Journal video to learn more.


Reebok Global Head Speaking on December 2

The MBA/MS Executive Speaker series presents Matt O’Toole, CEO of Reebok on Wednesday, December 02, 2015, 06:00 PM-08:00 PM, 246 East Library Wing, Axinn Library. You must register at Handshake to attend.

Mr. O’Toole is Global Head of the Reebok brand. Responsible for Reebok’s strategy, product, marketing and business around the world. A 25-year veteran of the sports apparel and equipment industry, Matt, is pioneering Reebok’s return to its fitness and training roots. Creating innovative products and services for a new generation of fitness activities like CrossFit, the Reebok Spartan Race, Body Combat and anything that pushes you to realize you are “powerful beyond measure”. Reebok is also engaged in the worldwide rollout of a new retail concept called The Reebok Fit Hub.

Matt holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is an avid CrossFitter, runner, and an overall fitness fanatic. In the summer of 2012, Matt summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with his 16 year-old son to raise money and awareness for Reebok’s Social Purpose Platform, BOKS*.

Click the image to visit Matt O’Toole’s LinkedIn page.


31 Tips for Improving Your Writing Skills

Looking to improve your writing skills? [We ALL should be. 🙂 ]

Take a look at the tips/tools offered by Lindsay Kolowich for HubSpot:

“Whether you’re a published author or just getting started with blogging, it’s not always easy to string words together in a way that makes sense, sounds good, and makes the reader feel something. But every [businessperson] should be able to write — and, more importantly, every [businessperson] can write. It’s just a matter of finding the writing environment that works best for you, expanding your vocabulary, asking for feedback (and listening to it), and practicing.”

 Click the image to see Kolowich’s tips/tools for better writing.