Fighting a Discounting Addiction


Photo-Always on saleToday we received Harvey’s coupons, just after the previous ones expired. I question the marketing tactic of habitual discounting or promotions. Like regular promotions of some packaged food brands, the coupon arrival has become predictable. And that’s an incentive for me to wait, putting off my purchase until the next discount comes along. In today’s economy, Canadians are on a money-saving quest, with 75% of consumers trying to save by buying items only when they are on sale, according to Nielsen research.

How effective are frequent promotions in driving sales and profitability?

Carman Allison, VP of Consumer Insights at Nielsen Canada, cites that 67% of trade promotions don’t break even. He is a proponent of fewer and smaller promotions.

Surely there must be a better way to influence hungry people to take a bite of your product. How about making your brand stand out from the competition by spreading the word about your point of difference? By the way, having the lowest price is not a point a difference and is unlikely to generate profitable sales.

Hone in on what your target customer wants

What I like about Harvey’s is that I can personalize my burger, like Starbucks lets you personalize your coffee. In my mind, that’s their point of difference versus competitors. Not only have they added new toppings, traditional toppings have been upgraded.

Make an emotional connection

Sure, some burger chains let you choose from a list of toppings, but at Harvey’s, I am in charge! I tell them exactly how to build my bespoke burger – just a teaspoon of chipotle mayo to keep the calories down, two slices of pickles (not too much sodium), four slices of tomato with an extra helping of lettuce to make it healthier and hot peppers on the side. That puts Burger King’s abandoned tagline “have it your way®” to shame!

It’s time to update Harvey’s “It’s a beautiful thing®.” to make it more relevant. How about “at Harvey’s you’re in charge”, because we all want to be in control.

What’s your brand’s point of difference?

As a packaged foods consultant specializing in strategy, brand and packaging development, Birgit Blain makes brands more saleable. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at

© Birgit Blain

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