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Brooks Brothers and 5 Days of Savings
By: Sarah Jane Dunaway
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Brooks Brothers received some flack last week during its Five Days of Savings event featuring exclusive one-day-only promotions. The first day featured 40% off all sweaters. The second day included 40% off outwear and accessories. Each day highlighted a different department or product type and offered a 30–40% discount on such items. The final day of the promotion offered 30% off men’s fashion and non-iron shirts.

Besides customers passing by the stores and stumbling coincidently upon the sales, most heard of the promotion through sales associates at Brooks Brothers or through email messages sent daily by the company. Customers received the “40% off All Outwear & Accessories” email [for example] and showed up the following day expecting the discount. Sales associates were frustrated at the lack of publicity and in dealing with uncooperative consumers, refusing to understand why a one-day-only sale did not apply to the entire week.

Here’s the deal. Brooks Brothers is not a cheap product line. Its ties are made in a factory in Long Island. Its cashmere sweaters contain wool from Scotland and many of its products are manufactured in Italy. Like many higher-end brands, Brooks Brothers is not one whose mere existence relies on discounted products and special sales. Brooks Brothers has been around for almost two centuries and prides itself on staying true to its original traditions and values.

While the frustration of consumers looking for a bargain is understandable, we shouldn’t criticize Brooks Brothers for remaining dedicated to its base. The average income level of its consumer is somewhere around $200,000. When the holidays roll around, it’s difficult to remind customers and associates that sometimes people have to pay full price — especially in between the Black Friday and Day-After-Christmas sales. The reality is that Brooks Brothers offers a solid product that is well made and lasts a very, very long time (just ask the polo shirts in my closet). As much as I love brands like GAP, Brooks Brothers is in a different playing field. 

Brooks Brothers’ marketing team could’ve done a better job advertising its Five Days of Savings event — especially on a targeted, geographic level. However, I do respect the company for laying low in a sea of holiday bargains and discounts. Frankly, it’s just not their style. Whether their effort was intentional or not, or with a hint of realization of the backlash caused in some local stores, Brooks Brothers remains true to its target audience, and that’s the most important brand message of all [at least in today’s lesson].

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About the Author

Sarah Jane Dunaway is a brand strategist and design consultant, and the writer and creator behind the blog Clean & Proper. A former member of the paper and printing industry, Sarah Jane specializes in helping businesses of all sizes streamline marketing communications by creating compelling brand identity systems and corporate identity packages. Find her online here

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