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University of Minnesota Bookstores Grows Loyalty with Annual Rose Sale

Posted by Stephanie Kubas on 2/16/14 10:00 PM
Topics: college store stories, eCommerce, sales strategies, bookstore events

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate just how thankful you are for your students’ continued support. University of Minnesota Bookstores has found a way to do that successfully while building engagement and generating sales at the same time. In fact, the store has been using the same promotion for so long now that it’s become a part of campus culture, according to Kari Erpenbach, marketing manager.

rosesale13.1“February is such a blah time of the year for retailers, so we wanted to find a way to bring some fresh energy to the store. We created our Rose Sale around that concept and, since then, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own!” she described. “We’ve been hosting it for at least twenty years and it’s become a tradition for faculty and students.”

Over a two day span, the store simply places silk roses in large vases near the register. A specific color of duct-tape is affixed to the bottom of each rose, indicating its value. At the time of checkout, customers can select a rose to save anywhere from 20 to 80 percent.

“The catch is they can’t go back and add more items after they learn their discount,” Erpenbach explained. “They can of course take items away, though. We have a few exclusions such as textbooks and electronics, but other than that they can use their discount on pretty much anything they want. It’s a perfect way for our students to get their Valentine’s Day shopping done.”

Because of the extra traffic, the sale has a positive impact on sales that are typically slow during February.

“We see a nice bump from the Rose Sale,” she said. “It’s not huge, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Surprisingly, the part customers get most excited for is not necessarily the savings, but the rose itself!

“We encourage customers to take their rose with them, and they just love it,” she said. “I’m always shocked at how many roses I see around campus even months after the sale. People really hang onto them; they’re always excited to get something for free and those roses make them so happy!”

The store promotes the annual sale via in-store posters and banners, email and social media. However, because it’s become such an integral part of the store’s event schedule, Erpenbach says it doesn’t need a whole lot of advertising.

“It pretty much markets itself,” she emphasized. “Our customers expect it now, so they look forward to it each year. The Rose Sale has been so successful at allowing us to interact with our customers during a time that they may not otherwise stop by. I can’t imagine not hosting it at this point!”

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