When Success Backfires

Sold Out

Every year, the John Lewis Christmas TV advert has become something of a national treasure in the UK. To such an extent, that whenever the new advert is released, there is a media frenzy, sales records are broken and many people believe that’s when the festive season really begins.

One of the challenges for marketing teams is how to keep an idea or campaign fresh—bringing new ways to deliver your message. This year, the John Lewis marketing team did something different. They created a set of animated characters, even utilising Twitter accounts for the Bear (@johnlewisbear) and the Hare (@johnlewishare) to launch the advert and spread the word.

But the most interesting thing the marketing team did was to develop a range of promotional merchandise for the Bear and the Hare—which was a first for a UK retailer.

Risk of Success?

So what’s the risk in that you may ask? Surely it’s a great way of driving customers to your store, making sales and generally enhancing your brand.

Well, within days of going on sale, the stores were sold out of the Bear. The Hare soon followed. But the advert was still running and customers were still being disappointed they couldn’t secure their Bear or Hare for Christmas. Then the Bear turned up on eBay for double the original selling price.

Suddenly, all the planning and effort you spent in carefully building your brand profile backfires. Your customers are having their needs fulfilled by another brand while your name is attached to their disappointment.

Prepare Your Supply Chain for Success

That’s why at critical points in your sales cycle, and your marketing campaign, you need to truly understand your supply chain and how quickly you can ramp production up or down so supply meets demand without interrupting your business.

Analysis and modelling of their supply chain for these particular products during times of extreme demand, could have helped John Lewis to better manage their customers’ expectations, minimise their risk of demand exceeding supply, while driving more profit for their business. And that’s surely the true magic of Christmas!

About Liam McGrory

Liam is marketing director within our Willis Global business.  He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Market…
Categories: Claim & Risk Control

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