NEW YORK: Marketers and consumers think about short-term sales tactics in different ways, and closing this gap could deliver various strategic advantages for brands, a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Carol Foley, David Kuhn and Elizabeth Harris, all of Leo Burnett, discussed this topic in a paper entitled, Rethinking Short-Term Persuasion: A Proposed Approach for Marketers - A Holistic Examination of Brand Incentives’ Effectiveness to Drive Short-Term Sales.

More specifically, they asserted that the balance between building brand reputation in the long term and driving sales in the short term has visibly shifted towards the latter discipline due to the rise of digital – and, within that, social – media.

“From a marketer’s perspective, there is both a need and an opportunity to tap into a wider range of short-term persuasion tactics,” the authors wrote.

In determining the relative status of these possible incentives, a poll of 17,000 adults in the US, conducted in three phases, asked respondents to provide their reactions about 186 tactics.

That list featured options such as bulk buys, contents, coupons, digital games, discount sales, endorsements, free trials, free shipping and returns, giveaways, in-store promotions, loyalty rewards, mobile payments, pop-up shops and upgrades.

And the results showed that participants split incentives into 11 “clusters”, each of which was perceived as solving a unique problem, and thus offered a distinct opportunity for marketers “depending on what the brand is trying to accomplish”.

The savings category, for example, incorporated three clusters: “basic deals” (e.g. coupons and discounts) focused on price; “exciting deals” (e.g. limited-time sales) that add value; and “fun pursuits and treasures” (e.g. a chance to win prizes).

And when discussing convenience, the two identified clusters – “time savers” (e.g. various shipping options) and “effort erasers” (e.g. easy payment options) – were each regarded as “vehicles for avoiding deep engagement”.

Drawing on these and similar learnings from the study, the authors argued, “Consumers’ organization of short-term incentive categories, however, does not correspond all that well to commonly used marketer hierarchies.

“Consumers, for instance, do not perceive every type of coupon as a Basic Deal. Some coupons are perceived as Basic Deals, whereas others are perceived as Exciting Deals.”

Reducing such gaps could help brands “create offers that deliver the specific benefits that consumers of their brand or product category seek in the short term”, and better align short-term tactics with the “longer-term marketing strategy”, the study said.

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff