Wednesday, January 10, 2007

If you found yourself over-indulging during the festive period, you might stand a chance of being able to blame Threshers, particularly if one of their pre-Christmas vouchers found its way to your inbox.

Threshers is one of the largest chains of wine stores in the UK. For ten days, from 30 November until 10 December, they offered 40% off ALL their wine. What’s more is that they promoted this offer in a remarkable way: they relied on the power of word-of-mouth.

The only way to claim 40% of your purchase at the till was to have one of Threshers’ super-special vouchers in your hand (pictured above). The only way you would have heard about the voucher or how to download it was through the grapevine.

Perhaps the intention was that the offer remained exclusive and small-scale. However, by 1st December, news of the offer had hit the mainstream media and the coupon had been emailed to 800,000 people. Anecdotal evidence suggests the promotion has been a massive success for the chain. One store manager reported on Gapingvoid that his store took more in one week during the promotion than it had done in any other week that year.

So, as the Christmas fog clears, let’s try to understand what it was that made the Threshers offer take-off. Readers of Hugh MacLeod’s gapingvoid blog have already been offering their suggestions:

1. The offer sounded great. 40% seemed like a huge saving and people really latched onto it. However, the reality was that Threshers had an ongoing 3 for 2 offer operating in its stores, meaning that customers could already effectively save 33% on their wine purchases. In this case, some sort of tipping point was reached which made sales go absolutely crazy. I suppose the aim of the voucher was ultimately to re-establish the Threshers brand in people’s minds at a time when other stores might have been dominating the market.

2. Threshers is a convenience wine store: they can be found everywhere in the UK, from large cities to rural towns. The voucher served to remind people that their local store and this ‘great’ offer were only a short distance away.

3. The viral had an air of mystique and intrigue. Because the offer wasn’t publicized anywhere else, it had people wondering whether it was some kind of email scam. This suspicion would have had them asking their friends and colleagues about it, hence spreading the word even further.

4. The offer was there to be ‘discovered’; it combined value with exclusivity.

5. The timing of the offer was perfect. As people were starting to think about stocking their wine racks in time for Christmas, they would have heard about the Threshers voucher. I’m not sure the offer would have been quite so successful if it had been made on 2nd January.

I’m sure we will now see other businesses attempting to mimic the Threshers magic. However, the important thing to remember is that the nature of viruses is that they are unpredictable: no one ever knows how far they will spread. As one blogger points out, it would be folly to think that you can just craft one.

Nevertheless, the story of the Threshers voucher will surely be held up as an example of how to make a success of viral marketing, and will inspire envy in others attempting to achieve similar results.

Links to the original articles on gapingvoid:



blogger templates | Make Money Online