Thursday, April 15, 2010

Birthday Marketing….

So today is my birthday…and I’m having  a lot fun!!

It is nice to have one day a year to feel special and do something completely out of the ordinary.  It is also a great time to review what happened during the previous year…achievements, personal growth, disappointments...  and plan for the coming year.  I always enjoy celebrating with family and friends…also hearing from people that I’ve lost touch with.  It seems birthdays are a good time to renew and strengthen relationships.   This year several major retailers tried to build their connection with me as a consumer by celebrating my birthday with me!

About three weeks ago I started receiving beautiful cards from many of the retail stores where I shop.  These are stores where I either belong to their loyalty club or signed up for email updates.  Each card included some sort of enticement to get me into their store (or to sign into their on-line store).   Anthropologie sent a card with a ‘birthday candle” necklace and 20%  off coupon. BCBG went one step further allowing 20% off each sale for the entire month of April.  Compared to these stores, Brooks Brothers gift was a bit meager offering a $20 off one item coupon.  

In the cosmetics department, Lancome was the big winner.  They gave five full-size products with any purchase in honor of my birthday.  This seemed much more generous than the small birthday sample that Sephora gave me.  The Clarins counter in Bloomingdales did not send me anything in advance, but when I mentioned to the cosmetician that was my birthday she filled a shopping bag with many full size products and samples.

So, is sending birthday presents to loyal customers a worthwhile marketing strategy.  I say resoundingly YES.  First, these retailers successfully got me into their stores, which gave them at least a chance to make a sale.   Offering a discount on everything in the store including new merchandise was an incentive to make a purchase.  Most new summer items probably will not go on sale until mid-summer so I was able to get them immediately at the sale price.  But perhaps most of all, these companies made me feel appreciated and I in turn am now a very loyal and happy consumer that will certainly return.

The companies that sent me birthday presents made me think about the companies that did not.  Nobody (not even my trainer) at the exclusive health club where I am a member said happy birthday even though the date is clearly highlighted in my profile.  Nor did the expensive hair salon I frequent made mention of my special day.   I will not give up my gym membership or change stylists, but I do feel less connected to these places than I did before.  In contrast, the retailers that did send me birthday wishes and presents in most cases got me to make a purchase I probably would not have made had I not gotten the birthday card.  They definitely strengthened my loyalty and connection to them.  

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