Chocolate wars: using our vice as theirs

I love chocolate. And I love that my favourite brand (which is the most expensive) is currently on special. But that’s about all I love about it. 

As a consumer, I won’t buy any more than my healthy quota anyway, so the manufacturer loses out. Plus it’s right next to all the chocolate brands, which are also on special – and not from the same manufacturer – so it doesn’t make me feel special either. 

What’s worse. As a marketer with 20+ years under my belt, and a big chunk of that in FMCG, this is new to me.  I can’t say I’ve seen this before. Non-exclusivity for brands on special on aisle end. Alarm bells. Chocolate, like lipstick, the everyday luxury that most people will dip into the very corners of their budgets to reach – on special, en masse. How dare the major retailers use our vice as theirs – is this really the last remaining tool in their toolbox? Marketing 101. Start competing on price and there’s nowhere else to go. 

The economy and retail sector are not in depression or even recession, last quarter retail results indicated an upturn in both traditional and online sales (NAB Online Retail Sales Index). We don’t need to compete on price.

What happened to building a differentiated brand… a customer value proposition underpinned by an appropriate pricing strategy… an engaging brand experience for customers across multiple touch-points? Not just price.

If you were at a BBQ with a customer-facing employee from each of the major retailers and asked them what they did, what would they say? I sell stuff at low prices. Which retail brand would that be? Take your pick. 

A Deloitte report in January (Retail Beyond) stated ‘Retailers are faced with the challenge of engaging customers on more than just price. They must make shopping across all channels a more stimulating and satisfying experience, rather than simply a way to find the lowest price for a particular product’. Does this mean our retailers have run out of tools in their toolbox to do this? We are better than this. Australian marketers are better than this. Australian consumers deserve more than this.

I’ll give up chocolate as my vice, if you give up price as yours. Deal?