Am I the only one feeling bombarded by marketing and sales offers at the moment? My inbox and social media feeds are littered with year-end specials and its not pleasant.

The holiday season generally brings an influx of offers, and to add to the usual annual mass consumer frenzy, we now also have the Black Friday phenomenon to contend with.

Stop the consumption train I want to get off

As a marketer, I feel very conflicted about it all. I understand that the market expects special deals at this time of the year. And that for a lot of businesses it is the time of year that they make the most money.

Yet, many businesses create special offers purely to be seen as having a special offer. Quite often it isn’t a “special offer” at all. Or it’s only offered because their competitors have a special deal and they don’t want to lose customers – not the best business strategy.

The problem is that it all feels forced … everyone’s out to make a quick and dirty buck – ethics be damned.

Un-conscious consumption

Asides from online offers, the in-store sales also seem to bring out the worst in customers. We’ve all seen the scenes with angry shoppers fighting over the last item in a sales bin.

Very often the quality of the items purchased reflects the discounted price – they’re cheap. They’re bought purely to get a “bargain”, not because there is an actual need for the item purchased. As these items are considered “cheap” they are not valued and easily tossed in the bin and ultimately end up in the landfill.

Surely there’s a better way to cater to the market demand for special deals while maintaining a more conscious set of values?
Well, yes there is. We need to embrace conscious marketing to conscious customers and this requires a little more creativity.

What is conscious consumption?

To best explain conscious consumption, consider the quite normal process of buying a T-shirt. The norm is to consider personal preference, price and convenience. However, the conscious consumer will base their decision on a number of different factors. They’ll want to know what it’s made of. Is the fabric natural, is it an ethically farmed material, is it made locally or in a foreign sweatshop by 10 year old, will it biodegrade? etc. All of these things influence the decision whether to purchase the T-shirt or not. How do you embrace conscious marketing?

All it takes is a little creative thinking to come up with some conscious marketing concepts to use in the holiday season.

Here are 5 conscious marketing examples for you to try

  • If you’re a small business, rather than competing with big shops on price, try a personal touch. Offer custom complimentary gift wrapping in order to make a memorable shopper experience.
  • You could also offer a free small sample product with every purchase. This gives customers a chance to check out your other products at the same time – and if they love it they’ll be back to buy.
  • Promise to donate a portion of each item sold on black Friday to a local charity. A 2015 Nielsen report found that 66% of consumers said they would pay more for products from companies committed to having a positive social impact.
  • Try a swap to shop promotion. Offer a discount on your products to people who bring in used items. Then donate these items to charities.
  • Offer something very exclusive for the holiday period only. In 2018, the shoe brand Allbirds created a limited-edition sneaker that they only sold on Cyber Monday. It sold out fast.

Offering your holiday customers a great deal doesn’t have to mean a discount. Try come up with some unique ideas like giveaways, shopping tips, charitable contributions, and holiday-themed social events. Be creative and have you’ll be well on your way to being a conscious marketer.

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