So the car scrappage scheme is over. As a result, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reports a slump in car sales. Sales of new cars are down by 17.5% and private car sales by a whopping 38%.
But should we be surprised? While the government could afford to subsidise the automotive industry the scrappage scheme really was a fantastic incentive for UK consumers who could pocket an attractive £2,000 when trading in their old car for a newer model.
It really did give the ailing automotive industry a much-needed boost.
And motor brands themselves took advantage of the government’s support and created schemes of their own to further enhance the idea and bring in even more business.
Everyone’s a winner.
I’m sure the success of the scrappage scheme found its way on to the agendas of many a management meeting prompting a ‘me-too’ approach to help boost sales in other industries.
Just last week, Marks & Spencer launched a massive marketing offensive announcing their very own ‘scrappage’ scheme. Simply take your old M&S clothes to your local store, which will donate them to Oxfam to re-sell and in return, you get a £5 voucher to spend on products from their new Autumn range worth £35 or more.
It generates buzz around their new Autumn range, whose adverts featuring Twiggy et al are all over our TV screens at the moment, whilst positioning the company as an ethical, caring retailer supporting charitable initiatives and encouraging recycling. Not to mention all the press coverage generated as a result.
What’s more, the cost to M&S to launch this campaign is minimal and they end up with huge numbers of customers with £5 vouchers burning holes in their pockets wanting to spend them on something shiny and new.
And of course this will drag people in who wouldn’t otherwise have felt they could afford to treat themselves. I even found myself wondering if I had any M&S items to scrap even though I don’t really need or want anything from their new Autumn collection at the moment.
The scheme tantalised the inner bargain hunter in me and feels like ‘something for nothing’. Maybe l’m just particularly pikey but I believe there is a bargain hunter in us all.
And to the customer, £5 isn’t bad either, it is better than you would often get for these old items if you sold them on ebay.
Just ebay it
Which brings me on to another success story based on product recycling and channeling everyone’s inner bargain hunter. Ebay is a phenomenal success and is like the world’s biggest car boot sale.
Don’t get me wrong, you can get some old dross on there but there is also some really good stuff there too. However, it can be a pain to list items for sale, especially low value items. So personally I don’t bother except for higher value products like mobile phones.
Instead, I prefer to donate unwanted goods to charity as it gives me a nice warm feeling inside.
I am not the only one to feel good about giving something away. I bet many of your customers would feel the same if their goods were ending up going to a worthy cause too.
Diamonds really are forever
The jewellery industry, particularly bespoke jewellery in which l specialise, has been recycling customers’ old products for years.
Gold can be melted down and re-created into something wonderful and diamonds and other precious stones can be unset from unwanted and forgotten pieces and reused in a new piece, which is a great saving for the customer.
And I have lost count of the number of thrilled customers we have had when we have managed to reset the stones in unused inherited items from the bottoms of their jewellery boxes into something that they absolutely love and which is worth a lot more than they paid for it.
But this talk of scrappage schemes has really got me thinking further. Surely there is more we can do as a business. Even if we donate the items we can’t recycle for our customers to charity.
Even if in reality all you actually intend to do is bin the items you collect this makes good business sense. But please don’t, there is always somebody who can benefit from these chuck-outs surely!
I noticed that my local branch of Superdrug did something similar a while back asking people to bring in their old unwanted products in exchange for a voucher. I wonder what they did with all the items? Possibly market research on what people didn’t really want to keep? But perhaps they just binned them afterwards, l’m not sure.
But even if your business isn’t in retail what else could we think of a scrappage scheme for? Books? Stationery? CDs? Whatever is relevant to your business – l bet there is something.
Of even if you don’t choose to involve your customers, what about your staff or your local community? We have a book basket in our Hertfordshire studio where we all donate our old paperbacks and anybody who wants one puts 50p in our NSPCC box.
This is so easy and helps raise money for this worthy cause. Lots of our customers and other local businesses enjoy using this basket too so it even brings people into our showroom.
Scrappage schemes – everyone’s a winner!