From a very young age I have despised buying things on sale offers. Having worked in a few manufacturing companies, I have known that there are no free lunches. I have a strong belief that if companies are giving away branded products for a throw away price, it is very likely that there is something wrong with the goods. It can be: 1. A defect or 2. soon to be out of fashion line of clothes or may be 3. an expiring merchandise. It can be anything but not a goodwill gesture by the company. Yes occasionally but very rarely such freebies are offered in a bid to lure customers (like how Reliance Jio is doing it) but more often than not, the reasons are not publicly explainable or admissible.

Having said that, the issue which is lurking in my mind is not about freebies or goods on sale; I have a larger question in mind. Why are branded products made larger than life if eventually they want to make themselves affordable through various “ON SALE” offers?

Louis Vuitton has never sold goods on sale but then there are not too many examples like these. Most of the time, the bigger a brand the larger is the guilt trip that they take you in. I can explain how.

First these companies create larger than life brands with product prices touching the roof. Then they claim to be exclusive and target themselves to a selected few. In the process, a common man finds himself to be absolutely unfit to own such branded products and suffers from a miserable inferiority complex. While some make the product buy an aspiration goal, however most go back home thinking themselves to be unworthy of such products.

Depression when you cannot afford branded products

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The swinging game of being a high end brand

The play starts now when the same brand hangs ceiling to floor “ON SALE” banners outside their showrooms or give full page ads in newspapers. Such brands will not pamper you even now. They continue to take you on the guilt trip. The sale is never portrayed as their failure or helplessness for not being able to sell the products in time or in volumes that they intended to. Instead they make pitches to convince you that on an ordinary day while the products are out of  reach for a common man but as an exception they have slashed prices or made offers so that not only the rich but also people like you and me (common public/poor public/masses etc.) be able to afford the product!

Beware! If you own one such product during a sale offer you will never feel valuable ever. There will be a permanent mark on your brain to remind you that you can afford big brands only during sale offers!!

Question is: Is this what brand management is all about?

If yes then why are we still falling for this bait? Tata was trying to sell a good product by making NANO a value-buy car. However the campaign was a debacle because people were not used to feeling pampered right away. Indian consumers prefer to first be treated as trivial & unworthy and thereafter feel rewarded when the brand makes itself “affordable” for “as long as the stock lasts”.

Are we thinking about these mind games which brands play with us? Do we know that we are victims of our own perceptions? We make our minds available for the brand managers to play with and they do the job neatly.

I don’t have a take home message or conclusion to this article. Idea was to note down somewhere the way big brands take consumers for a ride. It now completely depends on us whether we want to feel miserable by them or make them feel unworthy for all the hogwash that happens in the name of “Branded Product”.

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