A Sears "Wish Together" holidays initiative on Facebook takes the popular group-buying marketing trend and adds the "Like" button to it. The effort centers on a "group-liking" concept: After Facebook users "like" the Sears brand, they can then start "liking" specific deals that are unlocked when a certain number of people follow suit within a pre-determined timeframe.
"Group-buying is a hot trend right now in retail, and we know our social community members like to interact with one another, share deals and shopping tips, and always appreciate a good value," said Eui Chung, divisional VP and GM for social commerce at Chicago-based Sears. "[The concept] is based largely on the market trend and the feedback from our customers."
In one example, a Craftsman "Dog Bone" wrench was one of two offers on Wednesday with the original price of $24.99 and a deal price of $9.99. Three-hundred people had to "like" the deal before it would become available to Facebook users. By 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time yesterday, the 300-like threshold had been met and the deal was unlocked.
Sears's Facebook app lets people purchase the deal after it has been unlocked. With one click, the item can be added to a shopping cart hosted at Sears.com. When the viewers want to check out, they can click a button that takes them to a secure transaction page on the brand's site.
To promote sharing, deal "likers" are encouraged to share the deal with Facebook friends, on Twitter, and via e-mail. "We're reaching a new audience on our social media channels," Chung said. "They may or may not have considered Sears before or maybe didn’t realize the full breadth and depth of our products, services, or capabilities that make shopping easier and faster. We see social media as a way to connect with these prospective and current customers."
The number of products offered daily via "Wish Together" varies, as does the threshold established for unlocking an item. Products are of limited availability, and deals expire if the required number of "likes" is not met within a certain timeframe. In one case last week, a Harmony TV remote control was priced at $100 off until the deal ran out. It drew only 133 "likes," falling short of the 500-like threshold. There was no deal for Facebook shoppers - though the offer went back in a queue and will eventually reappear during the course of the campaign.
Chung said the initiative went live on Nov. 15 and will continue indefinitely. "We are evaluating the response to decide when and how to extend our group-buying approach," he said.
Lastly, Sears is probably also looking to increase its "likes" number significantly this holidays season. It has roughly 288,000, trailing competitors like Walmart (2.6 million)and JC Penney (1.3 million) by a wide margin.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.