ASOS promotional problems show that brands must not underestimate customers
British online fashion retailer ASOS.com made some big promises over the weekend, offering fat discounts across everything on its site and escorting frenzied Christmas shoppers and outfit-less partygoers towards salvation like a guiding star.
It’s a well-respected retail brand, selling affordable fashion and high-end designer labels alike, so from the outset it should have expected demand to be big. But it didn’t.
Despite the Ts & Cs stipulating the promotion would end at midnight, the company pulled it early, citing a whole raft of contradictory reasons. This did not go down well with bargain-starved fashionistas.
Quickly, the brand’s Facebook page exploded in negativity, with hundreds and hundreds of customers lamenting ASOS’s decision to kill the offer, not to mention the huge numbers complaining that the promotional code didn’t work in the first place, or that the site was running so slowly even while the promotion was live that they missed out and felt hard done by.
ASOS tried to soften the blow with another – less appealing – promo, but the mob was already baying for blood (a situation not helped by feeble damage control efforts on Twitter, where the official brand account mentioned nothing of the halt, and the customer service account – apparently run by someone that doesn’t understand how to use the ‘@’ function – seemed unsure and inconsistent in its responses to irate shoppers).
So what’s the lesson, here? No matter how much chatty camaraderie brands have with their fan base, or how well-liked they are, customers won’t hesitate to turn on them if they feel they’ve been wronged somehow. Just look at the hot water General Mills got itself into recently; much-loved family cereal brand Cheerios suddenly became the focus of hateful comments and negativity when customers felt they were being lied to about the product’s ingredients. Like ASOS’s customers, they felt disrespected through a lack of transparency, and they weren’t happy about it.
There’s a fine line between love and hate, and brands can so easily end up on the wrong side if they don’t look where they’re going.
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