Discounting: Another Perspective

Every month, sometimes every week, a new Mann Group article goes out into the boundless cosmos we call the internet. As we tap out the words of encouragement (and occasionally, admonishment), we dream of the impact we could have, the conversations we could spark, the change we could foster (yes, even more than the sales we could make).
And sometimes, when we’re lucky, we get to see the direct results of those articles or engage in bigger conversations. Such was the case this month, when our article about the cons of discounting went live on Outdoor Retailer. In the article, we argue that discounts compromise the value and integrity of our products, and by effect, our businesses.
Now, we still stand by our argument: shifting our mindset around the products we sell and their value is integral to the success of small retailers. But Sam Powers of Powers Sales Group reached out with some alternative perspectives that had us talking all month long.
What Powers said wasn’t a counter to our own argument, but instead a parallel one: yes, retailers need to value their products, but so do manufacturers.
What he said is true: rather than working in tandem toward a common goal—selling product—manufacturers and retailers are often stuck in senseless tug of war, as retailers prioritize their own brand and customer experience, and sales reps focus on the technicalities, like merchandising and assortment planning. Instead, they should work together to cultivate excitement around the products.
Yes, retailers should bolster the value of their products with excitement and legitimization, but just (or perhaps even more) as important, brands need to build value and motivate their customers to purchase at full price.
“As a rep, I need to make sure retailers are excited and enthusiastic about the brands that we represent and the products that are on their floor,” Powers points out. “The brand’s role is to develop exciting products, and then motivate customers, so that consumers get in the door.” It’s the rep’s responsibility to build the interest of the retailer’s employees, so that they can in turn build the interest of the customers. It’s a trickle-down effect that simply makes sense. If the sales rep can justify and validate the price of their product, whether because of quality or features or aesthetics, so can the salesperson.
Sometimes manufacturers forget that their job isn’t to simply make a great product and put it out into the world. They, too, are responsible for building interest, through broad streams like advertising, and narrow ones like effective sales reps. “Brands have the responsibility of driving consumers to purchase—regardless of the category,” Powers points out. He uses Adidas Boost as an example: a great product that was well-marketed and likely boosted (pun intended) Adidas’ sales across categories. It’s a simple algorithm that so many manufacturers, like their retailers, forget.
When we reached out to Powers, a few quick questions turned into a lot of head-nodding and exclamation of the word, “Exactly!” Because we both recognize that it’s not that retail’s dead, it’s that the entire retail industry just isn’t trying hard enough. “There is a general malaise of our retailers right now. They spend so much time focusing on the things that are real challenges to our businesses, but so many of them are not even doing the basics,” Powers says. It’s true of the whole string of retail, from designer to manufacturer to retailer, and the solution is simple: stand by your products and build excitement around them, regardless of where you fall in the chain of retail.

In other words, take responsibility for your business. “It’s always important to take responsibility for my portion of the process,” Powers concludes. Do you?

About the Author:
As a freelance writer and editor, Emily has the luxury of being completely mobile—but there’s nowhere she’d rather be than right here in Asheville (though she’s on the road more often than not). You’ll find her work in a variety of publications around town and the country, as well as in our monthly newsletter. In her free time, Emily enjoys exploring the mountains and valleys around Asheville and the cocktail bars and restaurants within it.

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