Putting prices up rather than down might sound like a strange thing for any retailer to do – let alone on Black Friday.

But that's exactly what spirits retailer, The Whisky Exchange, decided to do for the event this year.

Well, kind of.

Here’s a bit more on its campaign as well as a few reasons why it was one of the best around.

Taking a different tack

The Whisky Exchange’s campaign was borne out of the company’s own boredom with Black Friday.

Which, if you’re subscribed to more than one or two retailer emails, isn’t hard to relate to.

Instead of doing the same thing as everyone else and pushing sales and discounts, it aimed to come up with an original idea that wouldn’t devalue the high-end nature of its product.

The concept was to sell a discontinued whisky, the Glendronach 15 Year Old Revival, for 60% higher than it would when the spirit was widely available.

Since being discontinued in 2015, it has been virtually impossible to find, and now regularly sells for over £100 in auctions. 

So, despite formerly selling on the site for £49.95, the Black Friday price of £79.95 actually turned out to be a bit of a bargain. 

Tapping into consumer demand

With a rather discerning customer-base of whisky fanatics, the retailer knew that many would jump at the chance to get their hands on the Glendronach Revival.

And sure enough, it was right.

Even limiting customers to one bottle per order, all 450 were entirely sold out by 6pm.

What’s more, the retailer experienced a halo effect, resulting in double the orders from the previous day and online sales 25% higher than Black Friday 2015.

With a good understanding of its customers, as well as the confidence to go against the grain of what other retailers were doing, it proved to be a successful tactic overall.

Short-term exposure, long-term gain

That being said, the response was not entirely positive.

The Whisky Exchange received some poor feedback on its price hike approach, however, the majority of this stemmed from consumers dismissing the concept as a gimmick or simply missing the point. 

There were also a few accusations that the retailer has been hoarding bottles of the whisky merely to charge consumers more on Black Friday. Which, I have been assured, is untrue.

Regardless, feedback was largely good. And like any disruptive campaign, the exposure and awareness it gained is sure to have outweighed any negativity.

But was it just a PR stunt?

Maybe this was part of the aim, but it was also quite clever in how it helped the company to win customer favour and build loyalty.

Unlike a large fashion or technology retailer, The Whisky Exchange's core demographic is small and rather niche. 

Consequently, despite the fact that it also benefited the retailer in terms of increased exposure, it still provided the customer with something of real value.

Combined with a humorous and subversive take on the whole Black Friday experience, it created something really quite memorable.

In conclusion…

According to the Whisky Exchange, it has no plans to repeat its Black Friday ‘price hike’ campaign – mainly because a joke is never as funny second time around.

But it could inspire other retailers to go against the tradition or even just opt out in future.

With the event appearing to get bigger each year, it’s always refreshing to see retailers think of an original approach.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 30 November, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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