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.”