Where have all the promotions gone ?

Many men of this blogger’s vintage are seriously challenged when it comes to matters of fashion. This blogger is a card carrying member of the tribe who behaves like this when it comes to clothes

 – A few shirts and a few trousers, all looking very similar, hang in the closet
 – A shirt is plucked from the leftmost corner,  the trouser is picked from the rightmost corner and worn
 – As they are laundered , they join the back of the queue in the hanging sequence; thereby ensuring an automatic first in first out principle !
 – When a hole appears in any of the garments, it is thrown away
 – When there comes a day when not enough shirts or trousers are hanging in the closet, a shopping expedition ensues and half a dozen items are bought and the cycle repeats all over again !!

The last of the above happened recently to yours truly and off I trooped off to the mall to replenish supplies.

By way of background, you must know that this is the way men’s clothes are sold in India

 – An anemic looking shirt or trouser is priced at a king’s ransom. Let us say that in India it is something like Rs 3000 (circa $50 ; a ridiculous price to pay for a shirt)
 –  Random words such as ‘Uncrushables”, “Perfect Fit”,  “Wrinkle Free”, “Soft”, “Smooth” , all of which are nonsense, are displayed prominently to justify the price tag. Of course they all mean absolutely nothing.
 – Then a promotion scheme is run wherein you get 2 items free, if you buy 3, or even Buy One and Get One Free (BOGOF is an accepted word in Indian English)
 – Everybody is happy

Men at the level of fashion consciousness as this blogger , shop for clothes as follows

 – Enter the store. Go to the section where their size is stocked
 – Pick the first three shirts on display
 – Pick the first three trousers on display
 – Go to the cash counter and pay
 – Snigger at the lady draping and preening in front of the mirror and  and suggest rudely that no amount of this or that garment can hide the fact that she needs to go to the gym !
 – Exit store, preferably within 5 minutes

Accordingly, I entered a store and performed all of the above maneuvers. And then when I went to the cash counter to pay, the guy said I had to pay for all of them. I told him that I would of course pay for all as per whatever promotion scheme was running. He said there was no promotion scheme and I had to pay full price for all. WHAT ? I have never heard anything more ridiculous. He repeated that I had to pay full price. I said, I don’t understand. He patiently said – No promotion. The he spelt it out letter by letter – N O ; P R O M O T I O N.

I stalked out of the store yelling that he must be joking and if he expected me to pay $50 for a shirt, he must be a member of the Monster Raving Loony Party (such a political party actually exists in Her Majesty’s land). I stormed  into the next shop and went through the same sequence.

No promotion. Stormed out and went to the next shop. No promotion. Next shop. No promotion. There wasn’t anymore shops to enter into. And I had no shirt to wear tomorrow. So I went back to the first shop, tail between my legs, paid $ 50 and bought just one shirt and slunk back home. There is still a  huge hole in  my closet, but I am damned if I am going to pay the ridiculous full price tag to fill it up. I shall launder and iron my clothes twice a day and live with just a pair or two !!!

This facetious post underscores a serious issue. The explosion of promotions and consumer behaviour which has now been tailored to buy only promoted items. All promotions are a distortion on a fair price-value equation. The true price of a product can never be determined when crazy promotions are running all the time.  The seller tries to hoodwink the consumer, the consumer shops around for what he believes is the best promotion and this has become a complicated dance.

And so, apparel manufacturers stopping all promotions is a good thing. But then  they have cheekily not cut the price tag at all. It remains the ridiculous $50.  That’s absurd. I live in India and not in the US of A. I am not shopping on Bond Street or the Champs-Élysées. A shirt should cost $10. OK $20. Not $50.

Every manufacturer has withdrawn promotions at the same time. This smacks of collusion. Is the Competition Commission looking ? Or have the stocks of shirts and trousers of the worthies not diminished enough to warrant a visit to the shop ?

    Categories: Education