Poundland beats Lapland in brand values

December 8th, 2008 by Jon Clements

The “word of mouth” concept has been thoroughly appropriated by social media as its own, and rightly so. But it’s still going on off-line and in the most unlikely places.

With no national advertising campaigns, how else would AB demographic shoppers be helping to push up the profits of the discounter to end them all, Poundland? It’s probably not on their usual shopping route and they might be snobbish about their purchasing, but when you hear that everything costs no more than a quid a 20%-off deal at John Lewis or House of Fraser just doesn’t cut it.

And when did you last read a full-page of good business news in a national newspaper? Saturday’s piece on Poundland was exactly that.

Poundland has built a reputation by defying all the sophistication of modern retailing by simply doing what it says on the tin – selling at the same consistently, iconically cheap price.  

It’s when you don’t fufil your “brand promise” that you come unstuck. Take the Christmas theme parks currently choosing to prefix themselves “Lapland”. It’s a risky strategy, especially if you’re located in Milton Keynes. None of them are, but could they be any less like the destination whose spirit of Christmas they’re aspiring to capture?

As a parish councillor commented on one of the Lapland-themed days out: “Does it look like Lapland to you? It doesn’t to me.” The Lapland New Forest facility is now closed; but maybe it could have survived by scrapping the impossibly aspirational association with Lapland and achieving true authenticity by calling itself “Christmas in the Mud”.

The Guardian’s chief iconoclast, Charlie Booker, feels the failed Lapland attractions could have flourished with a wave of ironic visitors on a macabre pilgrimage as a result of the bad press. But kids and Christmas don’t do irony well and Santa is a brand you don’t mess with, as Lapland UK owner, Mike Battle says: “If you get it right people will love you. If you get it wrong, they’ll want your head.”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

2 Responses to “Poundland beats Lapland in brand values”

  1. BOTTLE PR Says:

    It’s certainly true to say that word of mouth recommendations work very effectively for Poundland and many other High Street retailers. In the case of Poundland specifically, we’d like to think that the investment they make in PR is also helping to keep them in the minds of shoppers around the UK. As you pointed out, The Guardian saw them as a worthy good news story, and it’s this and other positive news coming out of the business which is helping them to build their media profile.

  2. Jon Says:

    Bottle PR – thanks for your comment and for emphasising the point that in the absence of other marketing support, such as advertising, and in extremely difficult economic conditions for shoppers, a major national retailer is feeling the benefits of PR.

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