Feargal Quinn: 'Store wars can deliver value to customers and help to boost business'
Q: Do price wars between various different retailers have a role?
A: Price wars are always controversial and sometimes can lead to fatalities either among suppliers who are bearing the cost of them or one or other retailer who can't sustain the pace.
It is when there is disproportionate scale and size involved in a price war that it becomes dangerous. In other words, if you have one very large retailer taking on one that is smaller that might not have the resources to defend themselves, that can become tricky.
The whole reason that price war breaks out is that consumers obviously respond to value and the retailers uses this to drive footfall.
Sometimes that footfall does not just go in the door of one retailer alone, but all those in a particular region.
I can remember when we opened our first store in Dundalk, and there was a local retailer called McCourt's.
I can still distinctly remember on a daily basis lowering the price of cornflakes to the point where I had offered to pay customers for every packet of cornflakes they brought into the shop.
I wanted to encourage my participants to buy up all the cheap cornflakes my competitor was selling and to cost him a lot of money. A bit of fun really.
This type of activity had gone on for several weeks, much to the delight of our customers, when one day the parish priest arrived in offering to mediate between both retailers. He had just visited McCourt's owner also.
While I thanked him for his intervention, I pointed out that the shop had never been busier and trade was booming. With a rather puzzled look on his face, he reported that the owner of McCourt's had reported the same.
Q: I get lots of trade magazines from my business sector approaching me to place adverts with the selling point being that the trade buyers will read them. Are they worth it?
A: I was always a big believer in trade magazines and in Superquinn I used to assign the magazines to key members of staff, rather than managers.
The reality was that the managers never got time to read them, but by giving them to key staff and tasking them with finding one thing that the business could implement, we got huge return from our investment with many great ideas coming from this source.
Technology and the landscape has changed and I am not sure how many trade buyers physically read trade magazines anymore. Most seem to have been replaced by ezines, and the time allocated to reading these is probably only minutes.
Busy trade buyers only want to see the headlines and dip in and out of one or two detailed articles. Certainly, the era of reading a magazine from cover to cover is long gone.
If you are targeting a trade buyer, a better investment of your money would be to pinpoint some of the better trade shows for your sector and plan a calendar of attending these during the year.
The other big advantage of a trade show is that you get to meet the buyer face to face and are not speculating whether they have engaged with your ad or not.