Price & the Law: e-commerce forces a review

Thought-provoking article in today’s Toronto Star (from NYT’s DavidStreitfeld) on Price & The Law.

‘Sale’ prices used to require an actual reduction vs regular prices; the mere word onsalenowliftarns-CC‘sale’ makes some consumers salivate. Now, Amazon is rethinking its ‘permanent sale’ approach; it’s selectively removing some ‘list’ or MSRP prices, against which it shows consumers their ‘savings’ or ‘sale’ discounts. Amazon’s own suppliers’ sites ( eg Breville)  and other etailers pricing practises have laid waste to ‘regular’ or ‘MSRP’ prices’ relevance.

A ‘Manufacturer’s Suggested List Price’ was always fraught with credibility and enforcement issues; the Law says a supplier can’t FORCE a customer to resell for the MSRP price. Many suppliers are initially delighted when resellers sell for less than MSRP, as long as that boosts short term unit volume more than it undermines brand value credibility &/or causes conflict? flashback with other retailers who helped the supplier by bearing the risk to carry an item first (loyalty matters!) &/or carry more overhead or expect higher unit margin, to offset what they invest in selling it (eg resellers who ‘add value’ with merchandising, displays, personal sales staff, etc).

If discounting is everywhere, though, then discounting is … no where. A sale was only a great idea for the short term, and in select situations.

UpShot? The word ‘Sale’ has lost some value; Consumer  Protection Law needs to be updated to re-set the rules on if/when a situation calls for the word ‘sale‘; or else it will be used to mislead ie especially to beguile the naive.

Steven Litt

Brexit’s a big lesson in poll power

You’ll be unable to escape this topic in Research circles this week, this summer, this year.  What happens if conduct research, yet aren’t open-minded to the outcome? As per my video ‘When To Do (and not do) New Primary Research’: if you’re NOT prepared for the consequences, don’t do Primary Research. The British government waived ‘representative democracy’ (we presumably elect qualified people to focus & thoroughly assess /investigate complex  long term decisions), instead opting for  ‘poll/plebiscite democracy’, wherein potentially uninformed masses cast their views and wherein every votes is an equal vote.

Now you need not be a dictionary devotee to see ‘democracy’ and ‘demon’ share a word root. Researchers saw it coming; we know everyday consumers don’t handle (understand, consider, evaluate) complex New Product/ Service proposals well in ‘impromptu’ research situations. When we seek consumer input on complex new ideas, we warm’em up, inform them, focus their attention ie get’em ‘zoned in’. Then we typically deploy an array of detailed response options, such as scales, rather than blunt polar opposite forced choice.

We ensure we have consumers’ undivided attention and we aim for maximum understanding in advance. We provide them complex audio-visual concept description tools before we ‘pop a question’.  And we’d then STILL hesitate to used a forced choice ‘Buy or No Buy’ – there’s richness in asking an array of detailed response queries eg – identification, uniqueness, intent to buy within next X weeks, etc.

Wise to distrust  the use of a straight-up ‘ Stay-Leave’ – surely a blunt instrument forced upon uninformed respondents. How uninformed? The day AFTER the vote, a 250% jump in Google search queries in BRITAIN for: “What’s the E.U.?” 


Brexit by GDJ

Brexit by GDJ- CC 2016

‘Nearby’ or not, how will the data be used? Ready or not, here it comes.

Blog – ‘Nearby’ is a sign that location based will revolutionize targeting, messaging, offers.

This tech is going to be huge- but it’ll raise tons of issues

  1. Privacy issues, EVEN THO most consumers will inevitably ‘opt-in’ this type and level of personal-location data is going to tempt requests for access by eg disgruntled employers, spouses in divorce cases, legal defense and prosecution, etc.
  2. Storage! Storing this location-based data will multiply the need for storage, much of it inevitably cloud based
  3. Security: firewalls for cloud firms and for retailers downloading it to use. The temptation (& commercial upside) to hack it, will be huge.
  4. Competitiveness: Jury’s out whether this will help big retailers dominate, or allow small nimble retailers to better compete. But if you don;t play, you certainly won’t win.

One thing seems certain: inevitable winners will include consulting firms, beacon makers, Apple/ Google platforms, cloud storage firms.

Read it and weep- we know where you are (and where you go, and when you’re close, and when you pause, and …).


Pays to know competitive threats

Biggest #strategy – related news story in Canada this week imo is the Canadian chartered banks doing the deal with Apple pay.

Apple is both partner and threat to the chartered banks. A bank holds your trust and your funds, assists with your transactions. Apple can do all of that – and imo  the key consumer ‘trust’ relationship is more with Apple, than with the bank. for PCBank (President’s Choice) consumers are essentially unaware which (private label supplier) bank is behind the curtain.

A bigger GLOBAL issue is the prospect of more secret peer-to-peer fund transfers – a real potential threat to national security and tax sovereignty.



Welcome to (all opinions expressed are my own).

I hope students, graduates & work colleagues – past & present- will feel free to critique content, add their own examples, exceptions, counterpoints & so on. You play a BIG part in keepinitfresh, keepinitreal –> don’t hesitate to fill that role!

Thanks ever so much