Friday, 16 July 2010

Sorry isn’t always the hardest word

During the past few months or so, I’ve noticed I’ve been receiving more and more “Sorry” emails.

Most of these emails are covering up an error, like when Pet Supermarket put the wrong expiry date on a coupon—subject line “Appologies [sic] from Pet-Supermarket‏”. Some are to inform me that a sale has been delayed, as in the case of fashion etailer Oli, which sent me a serious looking plain-text email with the subject line “Sale delayed! We're really sorry‏”. Recently I received a rather baffling email from Roman Originals titled “Our Mistake, Your Reward”. There was apparently an “inconvenience” on its website the day before the email, but as I hadn’t tried to access the site, I don’t know what the issue was.

So when this came in from upmarket fragrance purveyor Penhaligon’s, I braced myself for yet another email excusing a snafu. But what I got was a twist on the sorry email—I got sorry as a marketing opportunity.
Titled “We're sorry - here's a little something to make up for it!”, the basic premise was that as Penhaligon’s doesn’t have anything in particular to shift, it’s decided to give customers 25 percent off everything in its range.

It’s win-win—for the consumer, he gets to choose any item rather than purchase a fragrance from the clearance section. And 25 percent is a hefty discount, after all. For Penhaligon’s, if this was a genuine reason, it shows that its forecasting is on the money and that it doesn’t have a lot of overstock. If it’s just another marketing ploy—a sale by any other name is still a sale, right?--MT

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