I was sad to see Comet go into administration last week. I can’t say I was a huge fan; I haven’t even been in the store since I was a little boy. Back then, they were one of the stores you could go and play with the Super Nintendo(that’s how long it’s been) while your parents roamed the store in search of electric goods. But the potential death (let’s just say they are on life support at the moment) of another established retail name is a sad one.
After hearing the news, I became curious to find out more. Its always interesting to know why these things happen. And more importantly from a consumer point of view, why would anyone shop at Comet? Particularly as I hadn’t been in such a long time. What I found didn’t surprise me. In a worryingly similar scenario to Woolworths 4 years ago; the shop was covered in discount signs – ‘buy now pay in 3 months,’ ‘interest free credit’ etc. ‘Sale’ signs everywhere. You get the point and their website was exactly the same! This was the first thing that I, the consumer, was confronted with when making contact with the Comet brand. With every element of their communications based solely on price. I could only assume that this is somewhere I go to buy cheap stuff. But one small problem, several of the products that had generous discounts were still available online elsewhere, cheaper still and all but a few mouse-clicks away. If Comet can only fight on price and even there they can’t compete, then we have a major problem. I don’t know the company’s recent history but I would hazard a guess that they’ve been stumbling along the bottom for quite a while.
So where does that leave us? Well it’s the near-death of yet another commodity brand. For those that haven’t read my blog before.
A commodity brand is one that competes only on price.
I have said this many times. The race to the bottom is a brutal one. To compete on price, to be a commodity based brand against the likes of Amazon is fighting a lost cause. It’s one that will only become more difficult in an increasingly globalised and digital economy. We’re only scratching the surface at the moment. The market is already awash with cheap stuff, the margins for traditional retailers are tiny. For the likes of Comet and similar retail brands to survive; they have to develop a compelling reason for the consumer to pay that little bit extra. They have to ask themselves…
Why should I shop at Comet?
It has to be a reason that doesn’t involve price. Value is more important than price. It could be quality of service, it could be quality of in-store experience, it could be the retail of niche products that aren’t available online. Maybe they do have to go totally digital and just have a small handful of showroom-style stores. But until the front of their stores tell me something more than ‘we are cheap.’ Then they will continue to have no brand and no business. I wish them well!
About the Author
Creative Director of the loft.
Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.
Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.
Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.