Saving Banana Republic.

Hello my dear earthlings, hope you are all well. I am very well myself, thank you for asking. Today I am going to tell you a sad sad story. Handkerchiefs ready? Great, let’s go!

This incident that I will inform you about occurred on 07/09/17. It was a warm September, or was it cold? Doesn’t matter. I was 7 months pregnant and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. While every other “mom to be”s were craving for decent food, I was craving for shopping as I wasn’t allowed to eat almost anything that tastes good. I bought a lot… A LOT.

Do I regret? Not really, but I want you to know that I regret everything I did that particular day. But I guess even this unfortunate incident had a significant contribution to my life so that I am benefitting from it for my blog post. (Always stay positive earthlings!)

On September 7, 2017, I bought a brown, cinnamon more precisely, leather backpack from Banana Republic. I knew the brand before but it was my very first purchase from them, and it was an online purchase. Look what happened next…

spam-01

EVERY – SINGLE – DAY! And these are just the most recent messages that I’ve got from them. I must have ticked one of those boxes asking if I want to hear more from them. But I didn’t think that I was going to hear from them every day! I don’t even want to see my own self every day!

Funny thing is, I didn’t like the backpack and I gave it back, but the spamming continued. Most of the messages were irrelevant, styles they offered had nothing to do with me. Banana Republic is not the only brand offering irrelevant stylings. Hobbs sent me these brilliant choices with a  “Styles your wardrobe needs now – and later.” subject for example…

HOBBZ

Okay, the problem is… I usually dress like this…

store

So why would my wardrobe need that Marci Dress? I have no answer to that question. Why do I keep whining about Banana Republic but not Hobbs? Because I know that Banana Republic and I have something in common. I do not feel the same way for Hobbs. I am not a potential Hobbs customer, but I used to be a Banana Republic one.

What changed? Banana Republic’s reputation in my mind. Before this incident, I, as a customer, would describe Banana Republic as sophisticated, cool, stylish, and trustworthy. Now? Desperate… That’s all. This is the only word that comes to my mind.

…almost all successful companies are, most of the time, better than their competitors at not annoying and disappointing their customers.” Barwise & Meehan (2011).

If sending promotional emails is not annoying the customer, what is?

Here are the words of Mark Ridley, the ex-director of technology at reed.co.uk, explaining how marketing emails can harm the business:
In an era of sender accountability, where reputation takes priority over content, you can’t risk damaging your image. It is frustrating that so many companies fail to adopt best practice and end up unintentionally creating a chasm between their brand and their customers.” Ridley, M., Stephens, B., & Bates, P. (2008).

What Could Be Done?

The problem is clear but what is the solution?

This is called spamming and, in my opinion, it is completely unethical. Do you know why? Because they just ask one single question; “Do You Want to be the first to hear about our offers and promotions?”. If you are naive enough to tick that box, the spam-bombardment begins. They do not ask you how often you want to get emails from them or in what types of promotions you would be interested in. As far as I know, some websites have these kinds of options but most of them doesn’t, or even they do, they hide this fact from you.

byemail

If Banana Republic has provided me these options, there would still be a chance for me to buy something from them. But now, I don’t even open up their emails, they keep coming to my “spam-dedicated” email address. Too much texting can even ruin a romantic relationship, why would I think twice for breaking up with a retail brand then?

Little Further?

Now I want to take one step further and offer something that might be unacceptable for some of you. As Marie Hattar briefly explains in her Forbes article, 5G technology and IoT devices will bring a new marketing concept which will enable marketers to collect more detailed data and predict behavioural patterns. So why not turn email marketing into an advantage? With customers permissions of course, always with permissions.

As many other websites, many retailers have “connect with Facebook” options on their websites now that eases the sign-up process, and lead the customer – almost directly – to payment details page. I assume they are able to see our Facebook profiles, at least the public ones. If there are any photos showing an outfit choice, it could be helpful, if not they can directly ask the customers about their style preferences while signing in by using the labels that they have created for product categorisation.

Here is how it will operate…

ETFE2

And how would it work exactly? Well, first of all, customers will not get sick of promotional messages and stop reading them. Instead, if the brands could target them properly and offer them something that they would really like, customers could actually appreciate these emails. Customers would feel like that particular brand really understands them and this could lead to a better relationship between the brand and its potential/existing customers. (Please do not forget that all these recommendations are made assuming the customers give the brands to use their data for such getting in touch purposes.)

I don’t know what the rest of you think but I would love to be understood by a brand and have it on my side when it comes to shopping. Our research results also show that every one of the one pregnant woman with gestational diabetes we spoke would appreciate more relevant emails so that she doesn’t have to have an extra email address for her brand subscriptions.

See earthlings, I already have great contributions to this world. It’s been only three weeks and I saved Banana Republic. I don’t think you’ll let me go, even I wanted to leave. We are in a world that Jeff Bezos replaced PowerPoint with narratively structured six-paged memo. I better keep on writing. Stay safe until my next post!

References

Barwise, P., & Meehan, S. (2011). Exploiting Customer Dissatisfaction. Marketing Research, 23(2), 12.

Gallo, C. (2018, April 25). Jeff Bezos Banned PowerPoint in Meetings. His Replacement Is Brilliant. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/jeff-bezos-bans-powerpoint-in-meetings-his-replacement-is-brilliant.html

Hattar, M. (2018, May 25). Fueling Your Marketing Engine With 5G Power And Speed. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/05/25/fueling-your-marketing-engine-with-5g-power-and-speed/#3d2b1c2565b5

Miller-Ott, A.E, Kelly, L., & Duran, R.L. (2012) The Effects of Cell Phone Usage Rules on Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships, Communication Quarterly, 60:1, 17-34.

Ridley, M., Stephens, B., & Bates, P. (2008). How can brands bolster their image via marketing emails?. Marketing Direct (1366896X), 42.

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