Throwing Off Sparks: Reigniting Retail Programs

As anyone in a long-term relationship can attest, sometimes you have to work hard to keep that special spark burning. Relationships are never static. A personal relationship improves in quality until it begins to decline, at which point one must extend effort to get the relationship back on track. That’s why we see relationship gurus — the Dr. Phils, the Deepak Chopras, and the Oprah Winfreys of the world — offer tips designed to enhance the quality of our personal relationships. We can boil down the advice to a single word: Effort. The most important step toward improving a personal relationship is to recognize that improving it requires work. Once you’ve accepted that reality, then successful steps toward betterment depend on the nature of the relationship, the willpower of the constituents, and the mutual commitment to improvement.

Relationships between retailers and brands are no different than people. Retailers attract loyal customers based on the quality of their products, a positive customer experience, and competitive prices. Loyal customers respond by buying more, buying more often, and telling their friends. Like any new romance, such a relationship is exciting and fresh for both parties, but without being properly nurtured can soon become stale. Familiarity breeds, if not contempt, indifference and it often isn’t long before retailers begin to take those customer relationships for granted, while promiscuous customers soon turn their gazes longingly to competing retailers whose offers seem somehow fresh and vital. Throw in consumers’ added sensitivity to price and promotion brought on by ecommerce, mobile price comparisons, and “daily deals” marketing, and it’s easy to see why retail relationships seem like they end just as they’re getting started.