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Promo strategies

10 Brilliant Ideas For Product Promotions & Discounts

Julia Krzak
Julia Krzak
August 17, 2021
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10 Brilliant Ideas For Product Promotions & Discounts

What are product promotions?

A product promotion is a special marketing incentive that is attached to a specific product or service to increase the sales of this particular item or service. Most usually, product promotions take the form of a percentage or amount discounts. Note, however, that this term may also refer to the general marketing efforts to promote a new item or service, without any discounts attached. You may promote a product via a number of ways, without discounting it. For example:

  • Collaborate with influencers to spread the word.
  • Host an event promoting the new product line. 
  • Encourage pre-order reviews from the most loyalty customers. 

In this post, however, I’d like to share with you 10 ideas for product-based discounts that can help you effectively drive sales on particular items from your inventory. But before we jump into details, let’s see what product promotions can help you achieve in the first place.

What are the benefits of product discounts?

  • Product promotions enable you to cross-sell and up-sell your inventory. 
  • They help to get rid of slow-moving stock, by offering less-desirable items as part of BOGO offers or bundles. 
  • They bring attention to new items in your store in the market full of competing offers. 
  • Product discounts create much-needed market differentiation if your competitors offer the same or similar products.

Ideas for product promotions

Note: To run most of the scenarios below, you need a flexible promotion engine that would allow your marketing team to dynamically change discount rules and launch new promotions without input from the technical team. Try Voucherify for 30 days for free to feel the difference. 

There are multiple ways to implement product-specific incentives in your online store. Here are some examples of product-based promotions that you can run:

Discounts for selected products only, not whole orders

By discounting selected products and not whole orders, you not only get a much better promotional ROI, but also personalize your offers more. To make the promotion even more targeted, you can offer discounts on seasonal products or base the discount on customer preferences and previous order history.

Example:

Mpix Photo Lab sent a promotional email to subscribers with a last-minute -40% off offer available only for Premium Books and Albums. 

Buffy, comforters and bedding company, offered a 20% off one product only – their best-selling comforter – focusing the promotion on a single item from their wide offering.

Discounts for product variants (SKUs)

To achieve the most granular promotional results, you can also attach discounts to product variants, called SKUs (stock-keeping units). This way, you can increase the sales of less desirable product variants, like less popular flavors, colors, sizes, or editions. The world is your oyster – you can use any product attribute to target very specific items and build a promotional campaign around it. For example, you can offer -20% off on everything green for St. Patrick's Day.

Free products & samples

Product promotions do not have to carry a monetary incentive. You can also drive sales on particular items by bundling them with bonus items. If you pack the promoted items together with faster-moving goods, you can sell them out faster. Besides free items, you can also offer free shipping with the purchase of selected products.

The other benefit is that by attaching a free gift to the product, you offer additional value to customers. Here the concept of reciprocity comes in which makes people feel obliged to repay you if they have been given something for free.

Example:

Function of Beauty, a 100% customizable beauty products brand, launched an attractive bundle campaign based on a specific product category purchase. By purchasing a product from the hair category, customers would receive a bundle of different hair mists for free. 

Pre-order product discounts

A product launch is always something to look forward to. If you want to keep customers excited about the upcoming changes in your inventory, early-bird or pre-order discounts are your best bet. To make this offer more attractive, you can target only the most loyal customers who meet certain criteria, such as minimum amount spent at your store. 

It is also a good idea to add a sense of scarcity to such offerings. By doing so, you make the offer seem more exclusive which translates to more traffic and interest in the new product. For example, you can set the limit on the number of total redemptions, making the discount available only to first 50 customers.

Abandoned cart offers

Data suggests that abandoned cart offers can recover up to 11% of unfinished orders. To tailor cart abandoned offers to individual customers, you may offer discounts on individual items in the customer’s cart instead of the whole order, to safeguard your ROI better. Keep in mind that these offers work best when limited in time and quantity. Also, ensure that you send this offer to customers only once or once per a certain time period to prevent fraud – some customers may notice that you send discounts with each abandoned order and start to drop orders just to claim the lower product price.

Example:

My Name Necklace (now MYKA) sends an email message to customers who left the cart before finalizing their order. The company offers a -12% discount on the items left in the cart. 

Wishlist discounts

If your ecommerce is equipped with a wishlist functionality, that is a way for customers to like and save an item before actually adding it to the cart, then you may launch personalized promotions targeted at specific items from the customer’s wishlist. Most open-for-all promotions disappear in the waves of other offers and communications, however, this type of a personalized discount that reflects the customer’s style and wishes, may just give a competitive advantage you need. 

Example:

Birchbox, beauty boxes brand, uses the Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to remind customers about items waiting on their wishlist. This time, Birchbox, offers a -20% discount on the whole order. To make this offer even better, you could list some wishlist products right in the email with the discount attached to show the discounted prices.

BOGO offers

BOGO offers (buy one get one free) come in many shapes and forms, but they have one thing in common – they are a great way to provide additional value to customers. If used strategically, BOGO promotions can also increase the average order size and help you get rid of products that do not sell well on their own. 

Example:

BOGO offers work great in the food industry. PizzaHut is a good example of BOGO promotions done well. To protect their promotional ROI, the company limits the offer availability to selected pizza types. Also, the free pizza has to be the same or lesser value than the original one. 

Product clearance sale

Clearance sales are usually used to clear out out-of-date or slow-moving stock to make room for new inventory. The best examples of clearance sales are present in the fashion industry where the cycle of inventory changes rapidly with the seasons. Periodic clearance sales are great for bringing traffic to your store and acquiring new customers attracted by lower prices. 

Example:

Motocard, a Spanish motorcycle equipment store, sent an eye-catching email message to subscribers to inform them about the clearance sale. To boost interest, the company displayed the discounted products and the discount value right in the email copy. 

Seasonal & collections sales

A seasonal promotion is any type of promotional activity inspired by holidays, celebrations, and seasons. Seasonal promotions are all about keeping up with the trends that let you add a bit of variety and ingrain your business into the stream of events, staying on top of customers’ minds all year round. As I mentioned before, the fashion industry is the ultimate source of best and most eye-catching seasonal promotions due to frequent inventory rotations and changing fashion trends. 

Example:

Pure Collection offers a standard seasonal promotion on all products from the summer collection. 

Blemished product promotions

In the spirit of growing ecological awareness and customers looking for more sustainable products and brands, you may consider a launching a dedicated product promotion on items that have some blemishes. For example, as a grocery retailer, you may offer -10% off all fruits and vegetables that are close to expiration or that come in unusual shapes – which in no way takes away their deliciousness or nutritional value. 

Example:

Not long ago, Lidl Poland, bought some imperfect and weirdly shaped beets from a Polish farmer to prevent food waste and managed to turn it into an interesting marketing campaign out of it. You can consider launching a similar product promotion with an addition of a small discount to encourage even more consumers to purchase products that are still high-quality, but for some reason may be considered broken or damaged. 

Lidl Poland ad reading: "Give beet a chance"

As a bonus, I’d like to give you even more ideas for product-based promotions boiled down to a short list:

  • Offer a discount if a customer buys at least three products from the same category.
  • Automatically apply the cart discount if the price of any item in the cart is more than $100.
  • Offer an additional 20% off for specific items if a customer buys anything from the same category within the next two weeks to extend engagement long-term.
  • Offer a $5 gift card if a customer purchased at least two items this month as a thank-you gift.

For more ideas, visit our guide to 30+ sales promotions ideas

Best practices for product promotions

  • As discounting can be associated with poor quality, it is recommended not to discount your most valuable inventory – unless you have a good reason to do so and explain it to customers. 
  • Product promotions work great in combination with the “few items left” tactic that shows customers how many products are left – this mechanism amplifies the scarcity and urgency effects.
  • Offer discounts with the highest perceived value – for example, 20% discount feels better than $5 dollar off even though the savings can turn out to be the same. 
  • Offering discounts without occasion may lead to brand damage, especially for companies that position themselves as premium – this is why it is recommended to to include the reason for the discount in your copy and visuals
  • To drive the highest ROI, combine product-based limitations with other conditions, such as belonging to specific segments, minimum order size or specific payment method or delivery location. 
  • Product promotions can take two forms – coupon codes that need to be applied at the checkout or automatic discounts that are applied automatically to matching orders. Both of these options have advantages and disadvantages as unique codes allow for better personalization and tracking, whereas auto-applied promotions enhance the customer experience and shorten the customer journey allowing for quicker implementation.

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