Merthyr Tydfil, Wales - April 2018: Sign in the outside of a branch of the Wilko discount chain of shops

The power of connection: What we can learn from Wilko’s failures

Why Discount Retailers need more than just low prices

In the fiercely competitive world of retail, discount retailers have long relied on the allure of low prices to attract customers and ‘sell out’. However, in an era where consumer expectations and shopping behaviours are rapidly evolving, and new discounters are entering the market daily, the reliance on low prices alone is no longer enough.

To remain relevant and successful, discount retailers must prioritise communication and marketing strategies that connect with consumers on multiple levels to give them a point of difference vs competitors.

So, what are the reasons behind this shift, and where did Wilkos go wrong?

Here are six reasons why effective communication and marketing is crucial for a discount retailer’s sustained growth.

  1. The changing landscape of consumer behaviour

Consumer behaviour has shifted significantly over the past decade. Shoppers are now more informed, discerning, and connected than ever before. With the rise of e-commerce and the ability to easily compare prices online, consumers are no longer solely swayed by the cheapest price tag. They are also seeking value, convenience, and a personalised shopping experience, and it’s important that these key benefits are communicated to them on a regular basis.

  1. Brand loyalty and trust

Discount retailers often face a perception challenge. Consumers associate low prices with lower-quality products, which could deter them from purchasing. By investing in effective communication and marketing, retailers can educate consumers about the quality of their offerings, reassuring them that value doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality. Transparent and authentic communication across various channels, such as PR, social and digital, can help build customer trust and loyalty, ultimately leading to repeat business. Leveraging partnerships such as influencers is a great way to tell this message, allowing people that consumers can relate and resonate to provide evidence of good quality products and brands for low prices.

  1. Differentiating in a crowded market

The retail market is saturated with discount options, making differentiation increasingly difficult. Successful communication campaigns can help discount retailers stand out in a crowded field. By crafting a unique brand identity, highlighting special offerings, and effectively communicating a value proposition, retailers can create a distinct personality that resonates with consumers.

  1. Showcasing variety and driving hype

Discount retailers often provide constant variety; consumers seek exciting and diverse product ranges., which might not be effectively conveyed through price alone. Driving hype through earned PR coverage around limited product editions or stock is a strategic way to increase the likelihood of a ‘sell out’, raising awareness of the product before it hits the shelves so consumers are primed and ready to make the most of a good deal.

  1. Navigating Digital Spaces

In the digital age, a significant portion of shopping occurs online. Effective communication and marketing strategies allow discount retailers to navigate this digital landscape with finesse. Engaging social media campaigns, informative blog posts, and user-friendly websites can significantly enhance the online shopping experience, offering customers the convenience and information we know they are searching for. Although many discount retailers are a bricks and mortar business model, the change in consumer purchasing means people will still search and follow online and therefore, an efficient digital strategy remains vital.

  1. Adapting to Personalisation

Personalisation is a huge part of modern marketing. Discount retailers can no longer rely solely on mass advertising to reach their customers. Effective communication strategies enable them to harness data-driven insights and craft personalised messages that resonate with individual shoppers, enhancing the chances of conversion.

Whilst low prices will always be a potent draw for consumers, they are no longer sufficient as a stand-alone strategy to guarantee the success of discount retailers. The evolving retail landscape demands more holistic strategies encompassing effective communication and marketing. Discount retailers need all the above to engage and maintain consumer interest and Wilkos is the example we can all learn from. The low prices and trending products were always there- but without the suitable investment into comms and marketing, they failed to drive awareness and brand love that will be the main drivers to purchase.

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