will discounting bus travel pay dividends in the long-term?

Over the last month or so many bus operators around the country have introduced price promotions to entice passengers onto their services - typically heavily discounted evening travel.

On the face of it, the move is a no brainer. The bus company gets a decent amount of cash in the bank when the alternative is a lot less, returning customers are given the opportunity to restore confidence after the pandemic, new customers have the incentive to try bus travel, and the local economy benefits by people getting out and about spending.

As ever with such inviting price promotions, I have no doubt the numbers will look impressive. From memory, various managing directors have quoted passenger increase figures around the 20% mark, so definitely positive returns to date.

But there are inherent dangers with such drastic reductions. The reality is a brand is banking on people trying the product when perhaps they wouldn't have done so in the first place and repeating that purchase post promotion. 

The big stumbling block is that once you have paid less than the standard retail price for an everyday item (that perhaps you thought was expensive in the first place), you create a new value on the product. Doubts appear in your mind when you reconsider purchasing again.

The opposite is true for special, big item purchases. If you get a £5k discount on a new £30k car or £20k off a £400k house, you are still likely to value the purchase at the higher price and maintain a positive impression of any brand involved.

So will those who pay £1 for evening bus travel be happy to pay twice as much for exactly the same journey in a few weeks time? My heart says one thing but perhaps my head says another.

I guess only time will tell.