Put simply, the definition of Sales Promotion is any initiative undertaken by an organisation to promote an increase in sales, usage or trial of a product.
So the umbrella term can cover everything from a simple money off next purchase coupon, to a huge on pack promotion with a massive prize fund and fully integrated media support. As the name suggests, traditionally the primary function of any sales promotion activity has been to impact on sales, but often a good piece of sales promotion can also have a significant positive impact on ‘softer measures’ such as consumers’ perceptions of and relationship with the brand.
Key objectives that can be very effectively met by the use of sales promotion include trial, purchase frequency and loyalty and a key benefit of sales promotion is the fact that it is generally very measurable. This enables marketers to demonstrate return on investment and also to model the impact of future promotional campaigns. The impact of a sales promotion campaign on sales can often be felt much more quickly than some other marketing activities, which means that brands can often turn to sales promotional to meet shorter term tactical objectives. However, it’s vital that marketers also understand that sales promotion can and should form an important part of their ongoing strategic plan, working together with other forms of promotion including direct marketing and experiential marketing.
Many sales promotion activities utilise associations with celebrities, films, events or other properties, or indeed other brands, to maximise impact on the consumer and generate a positive reflection on the brand running the promotion. From McDonalds numerous Happy Meals promotions linked to children’s film releases, to Robinson’s annual on pack promotions linked to their Wimbledon sponsorship, to Carlsberg’s multi-layered promotions focusing on their status as official beer of the England team, this can be an excellent way to engage with target consumers. It’s important to consider such associations very carefully though, to ensure that you stay true to the brand values which should be exemplified by the promotion and also consider any potential negative connotations.
Mechanics which fall under the sales promotion banner include prize draw, competition, self-liquidating promotion, free mail in, gift with purchase, collector scheme and not forgetting the simplest but often very effective MONP coupon or discount voucher. Whilst the classic old school sales promotion activities are alive and well, the discipline has also embraced the digital age and has a huge influence on how consumers engage with brands in the online arena. Sales promotion has a particularly big role to play when it comes to social media, with a vast array of brands using promotions to both encourage consumers to interact with them on Facebook and to keep their interest and attention when they do.
Sales promotion is essentially about providing people with an additional reason (over and above the product or service itself) to make a purchase, whether that be a chance to win, a guaranteed reward or a discount. And in an increasingly challenging market place, giving consumers more of an incentive to choose your brand definitely makes sense!