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Right Now Value vs Lifetime Value

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CSO of M&C Saatchi London Sophie Lewis on the tricky concept of truth in advertising

Right Now Value vs Lifetime Value

I spend a lot of my time thinking about what ‘value’ really means to people at the moment. Well, not just at the moment, but it has intensified inevitably in the last six months due to the C.o.L. crisis.

As I walked to the station yesterday morning I was just behind (and therefore eavesdropping) on three women who worked at Sainsbury’s. They were talking about a pay-rise which is coming in October (and, I think, discussing whether it would be 10% or 20%).

And as I over-took them to walk up the steps to the station, one of them said that she would be popping to Aldi (just round the corner on the London Road) on her way home. 

Two nights ago I went to a panel event – marketers and one agency leader talking about the current situation and what they were doing to ‘help’ their colleagues and customers.

One of them was the customer and marketing director of John Lewis who talked proudly about the new campaign and endline they have just launched.

For all Life’s Moments.

A colleague pointed out to me that it felt quite similar to Boots - With You. For Life

Yep. It is. 

Now I don’t really like this as a strategy. In the first instance, because I think it leaves your business strategy showing the way your knickers do when you accidentally get your skirt tucked in them after having a wee. 

It’s basically telling everyone that someone has done some spurious maths and concluded that if you get them in early and keep them coming in on a basis of X visits per week or month or whatever (or in the case of JLP, all those tiny moments we really value, which, no doubt, adam&eveDDB will spend the next however long debating/researching, by the sound of things) you will make a stack of cash. BOOM! Targets met. Marketing job done.

It's quite lazy. 

Like I said, your knickers (and not even the fancy ones) are showing.

The second reason I don’t like it is because it’s just not true.

Ah, the concept of truth in advertising. Tricky.

What I mean by this is, yes, in case of John Lewis, you can buy stuff that has a role (of sorts) in the small moments we value.

Like a baby carrier, or a cot, or later on, let’s call it a toy, then a pencil case and then maybe an outfit for a first date and then stuff to take to university with you and moving into your first flat, or cooking for yourself, glasses to toast your engagement (I am getting good at this, Bevvo, let me know if you need any help)

But let’s be honest, as we can see from the figures they released this week, you can buy all that stuff (and considerably cheaper) from a load of other places. Or, more likely, you can not buy it at all.

John Lewis isn’t really there for you for all the tiny moments unless you have the cash to buy the (premium priced) baby carrier. The brand isn’t providing anything for you that you can’t BUY somewhere else. Cheaper.

Now I am not a complete simpleton. I realise that in relation to ‘the truth’, John Lewis is a department store selling things/categories which will, indeed have a role in peoples’ lives from birth to death. And that this strategy will be all about John Lewis’ ability to appreciate the ‘little moments’ (the same way it used to create lovely stories around mindful gifting or whatever they call it on the brand onion/house etc) but still, you’ve got to be selling something that people want. And let’s face it, you’ve blown the baby/start of life and Dad Parent/Carer straight off the bat so that’s that one done.

My point, though, is not to rubbish John Lewis. It’s fine, as strategies, campaigns and endlines go (damning with faint praise). 

My point is really to say that what people need and want is the stuff they need right now and I am not sure that this campaign would make me think JLP was the place to get it.

And people out there are in agreement as we can see from the -£99m shaped hole in the budget and the concomitant early warning of no bonuses. 

It brings to mind the brilliant Curry’s work M&C Saatchi did some years ago about doing all your research and having lovely experiences and then going to Curry’s to get the cheapest price.

That is what is happening now.

So then we come on to the much bandied around, rarely delivered on concept of loyalty. Broadly interpreted by Brands to mean, what’s the least we can give people, that they will see as being of value to them, so that they will keep shopping with us. And (probably more importantly) so we can force them to give us information about themselves so that we can talk to them, target them and generally use it to sell them more stuff).

But I think the day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Right now, today, people are HAVING to choose more carefully than ever, what they buy. It’s not their fault. But it takes energy and time to be able JUST to live and to provide for themselves and their families.

Most of them want the easiest possible ways to save money. And by this, I mean, you don’t have to see two prices on-shelf (Tesco) or have a ‘loyalty card’ to give you minimal cash off an item or the next shop or whatever. You don’t have to do tricky calculations or buy two-for-ones or buy ‘this with that’.

And that is why Aldi has just moved into the number 4 position.

And so when I am thinking about value today I will be thinking a lot less about lifetime value and the potential money I can extract from people over the course of their lifetime or even this year and a lot more RIGHT NOW value. About what the brands I work for can do to help people live (contentedly). Because if we help people, in a simple, straightforward way, without asking anything more of them, they will shop us. And continue to shop us when the sun comes out again. 

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M&C Saatchi London, Mon, 19 Sep 2022 07:19:00 GMT