Learning from the Threshers Internet voucher experience

In the UK, the wine and spirits retailer Threshers is front page news because of a discount voucher. It offered an online 40% discount voucher to a few selected people. But the voucher was posted on a blog and was downloaded by 800,000 people. Threshers say they are surprised, but will honour all the vouchers; however, some commentators have suggested that this was all part of a clever marketing campaign by Threshers. Whatever the facts behind the voucher it tells us something important, as Internet marketers. If Threshers had just published an advert saying “40% off” it would have obviously attracted some people. But the online voucher is likely to have generated more custom. The reason, is that the voucher is perceived as something personal. If a friend downloads a voucher for you and emails it to you, there is a greater chance of you using it because it is “yours” rather than some general offer. For instance, the UK’s top retailer, Tesco, uses this concept very well. Each month it provides cash-back vouchers to customers who can then “spend” them in the company’s stores. This has much greater personal appeal than Tesco simply reducing their prices. Low prices are not always enough to attract customers; instead you need something personally directed so that people take ownership of the discount as something “just for them”. If you are running a business online, the Thresher’s experience should tell you something: make your promotions “personal”, rather than having a general sale.

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