Are The January Sales Damaging Your Brand?

Without a doubt, price promotions are a great way to increase short term sales. They’re a tactical method of tipping shoppers from consideration to purchase. So, that person who’s been ‘umming’ and ‘aaahing’ about whether to buy that pair of shoes now has that extra push. Price promotions are also used to create interest with a broader audience outside your core base – people who don’t normally shop with you but have been seduced by the big red ‘50% off’ sign in your store window.

But are price promotions are having a negative impact on your brand? It’s been hotly debated for some time as to whether discounting stock has a long and lasting impact on brand equity, and for those that agree, is the ‘win’ provided by the short-term peak in sales even worth the potential damage?

How price promotions can impact your brand long-term

Problems normally arise when brands discount without intent or too often. If done in this way, they can slowly erode consumer’s perceived value of the brand and what they’re willing to pay for your products and services. Discounting stock too frequently will condition your audience to only shop during sales periods, because ultimately, why would consumers opt to buy a product full price they know they’ll get it cheaper by waiting it out?

Additionally, discounting too often can have the potential to upset customers who did pay full price. According to a 2017 study, 64% think negatively about a brand when they purchase something only to find it discounted days later (Campaign).

But are the January sales really the problem?

The January sales in isolation won’t necessarily be enough to erode brand equity. However, they do conclude a rather long sales period, beginning with Black Friday in November, followed by Cyber Monday and the Boxing Day sales. By the time you reach January, shoppers may feel as though your brand has been on sale for months.

Our advice? Don’t be afraid to get involved in the January sales, but be wary. After all, it’s a great way to get rid of stock that you wouldn’t have otherwise sold, and it avoids missing out on the boost in short terms sales that your competitors are getting.

Here are our top tips for how to get the most out of the January sales:

Tip #1: Understand what you’re trying to achieve

Are you trying to shift unwanted stock? Or, are you trying to attract the attention of your audience? Remember that price promotions are not a long-term strategy, so if it’s the latter, there are better ways of achieving this objective.

Tip #2: Be selective of when you run price promotions

Avoid conditioning your audience to only shop with you during sale periods by not running price promotions too regularly. When your competitors are running promotions, you may feel pressure to slash prices too. But, if you’ve given consumers a reason to choose your brand other than price, this pressure will be minimised.

Tip #3: Don’t discount to attract the wrong audience

Price is often used as a marker of quality or scarcity. Therefore, discounting to attract more price sensitive consumers can potentially put you at risk of alienating your loyal, core customer base. While price sensitive consumers may choose you if the price is right, loyalty is typically low. Understand who your core target market is and thoroughly consider any possible implications before running promotions.


At Ponderosa, we put planning and strategy at the heart of everything we do. From providing insight into your audience, to making your brand more distinctive, get in touch to find out how we can help you.

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