Grubby marketing strategies

- May 28, 2012 2 MIN READ

Marketing strategies come in all forms, from the sophisticated and subtle to the aggressive and downright nasty.

I‘ve noticed more and more of the latter in recent years. I don’t know whether that’s because the baseline quality is actually in decline or if my tastes have become more conservative as I age.

Either way, here are a few of my pet peeves.

Artificial valuation

“This incredible package, valued at $950, can be yours for just $95.” I’m fine and dandy with genuine discounting but honestly, has anyone, anywhere, ever paid the $950 the package is allegedly worth? If the answer’s no, then the ‘valuation’ isn’t worth the pixels it’s written with. What’s more, when this is pitched Using Title Case I Freak Out Even More.

Similarly, I’ve noticed clothes-shop ‘discount’ items that I suspect have spent little or no time for sale at their RRP.

Specials that are anything but

I came across a supermarket ‘special’ that represented a 0.07 per cent discount. Barely worth printing a label for. But as one commenter pointed out, the big yellow label did its job in that it got my attention. It’s infuriating, but he’s right. The lesson? Always read the label.

Want more articles like this? Check out the sales strategies section.

Positioning inherent properties as benefits

Fruit wraps have always, and will always be fat free. But only recently have they been labelled as such. This practise of highlighting an inherent property pretends to educate but is more typically a device to turn our attention from the fact there’s a stack of something else undesirable (in this case, sugar) in the product.

Coming to a shop near you: sugar-free butter, carb-free cheese and protein-rich eggs.

Coyness over basic information

A favourite with my local estate agent, the ‘price on application’ strategy is customer unfriendly at the best of times and in a buyer’s market (as is the case where I live) is downright foolish. The same agent often fails to include basic location info on the listings. Fortunately for them, I’m not in the market but if I were, they’d not be my agent of choice.


The practice of ‘charity mugging’ is a form of street fund-raising. Typically positioned in pairs either side of a zebra crossing, these folks target people going about their business, hustling them to support the charity the ‘chugger’ is working (on commission) for. It’s like face-to-face cold calling of untargeted prospects. Hands up who likes getting ambushed on their way to buy groceries? Exactly.

I understand that in spite of my aversion to them, these practices are not necessarily ineffective, nor are they likely to fade away anytime soon. Which is unfortunate, as I can’t see myself getting any less grumpy about them!

Which marketing strategies get your goat? 

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"