Half price deals, 25% off, two for one promotions – they’re all standard sales pulls in the retail environment, with advertising strategies to match. Until now?

The recent investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into furniture and carpet retailers using fake price deals has led to a wider debate about marketing to consumers. OFT has labelled the problem ‘endemic’ within the industry. Consumer rights groups and the media are calling for tighter advertising restrictions. Manufacturers and retailers are left wondering how best to market themselves, fairly, in this climate.

Today’s consumer journey is now far more complex than ever before. Gone are the linear purchasing patterns of old. Consumers now flit haphazardly from stimulus to product research, company analysis, in-store experience, price comparison and, finally, to purchase - over the phone, in-store, online or on mobile devices. Consequently, before marketers work out what to say to the new consumer, they need to devise a uniform brand strategy that reaches them across all touchpoints, throughout the varied steps of the buying journey.

The 2013 consumer is also a consummate deal hunter, and more likely to be researching and doing deals online – especially for big ticket, home items. They expect offers, discounts and loyalty points to be a part of their shopping experience. Retailers need to communicate the deal message more savvily. Telling consumers they can spread the cost to make it easier to buy is also an attractive message. As is beating any quote or offering free white goods.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that consumers are looking at value in a much more 360 degree way, taking into account quality, function and personal preference as well as the price tag. Highlighting your excellent customer service is key in a discerning buyers’ market. And building a strong brand around their needs is more important than ever before.

To drive volume, it’s vital that your brand is first meaningful – resonating with your target audience – and then salient. Brands that are meaningful, different, and salient generate three times more volume from brand strength than availability or promotions. They command a 14% higher price.

If you want to be one of those strong flooring or furniture brands, start by defining your target audience – who they are, where they are, what they want, how to reach them. Then devise your brand campaign around the meaningful salient messages which will engage with them particularly.

Once you’ve made those key decisions and put a strong advertising plan into action, you’ll be better equipped to ride that rollercoaster of today’s retail environment.

This article was written by Mark McCafferty of TTMV - a leading, full service media, creative and digital agency, offering highly competitive, independent media planning and buying coupled with commercially focused creative solutions all under one roof.