Even for their most status-conscious consumers, luxury retailers know never to underestimate the power of a discount. On average, 49 percent of the marketing emails sent by prestige retailers and brands–as tracked and reported in our new Multichannel Retail study–promote an online or in-store sale, provides a promo code, or includes some kind of price discount. The most consistent and generous email discounters, not surprisingly, are the multichannel-savvy home goods retailers, whose brands on average offered a 10- or 20-percent price reduction in more than half of their emails. And though it’s the most common method, discounting isn’t limited to just email promotions. In fact, 81 percent of the 79 brands in our study offered free or reduced shipping on-site and nearly a quarter advertised online-only sales. The incentivized nature of brands’ digital channels supports the idea that e-commerce may be focused on discounting–however, some are beginning to balance investments, supplementing this with other features capable of driving customers to their stores.

In the chart below, you can see the range and frequency of incentives offered by prestige retailers’ email marketing, as measured by our research team (click image for greater detail).

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Some of the most effective multichannel discounting strategies have come from department stores like Lord & Taylor, which rewarded customers who spent more than $100 online with a $20 gift card available for in-store visits only. Saks Fifth Avenue teased its email subscribers with exclusive online access to a promotion, followed up a few days later by the same promotion at all retail locations. The Body Shop employed gamification to motivate shoppers with an online “surprise discount” and in-store “drop to win” game in the same email. On the flip side of home stores and department stores, Watches & Jewelry retailers were the least likely of any of the six sectors included in our study to advertize a promo code, sale or special discount. The only exception was Zales, which offered discounts in every single one of its emails between Q4 2012 and Q1 2013.

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