Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lagniappes, bakers dozens and win a vacation

Freebies have a long and distinguished history of attracting shoppers to retail stores. When I worked for Toys R Us, "R Treat" freebie boxes were one of the most popular and effective promotions for bringing customers into the store. Shoppers love to get something free with their purchase. Give a little bit to get a lot of business in return.

The bakers dozen is an early example of the practice. It seems to date back to the colonial-era at least. I had no idea that baking was such a a touchy and dangerous profession.

A lagniappe is "a small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer's purchase." It's a Louisana French term still used often in New Orleans. Lagniappes work for retailers at all price levels. While price-reductions can damage the brand image of a luxury retailer, a lagniappe is a touch of class appropriate in even the toniest of establishments.

A less effective marketing tactic for a retailer is the "win a vacation" promotion. Big give-away contests work well for cities that are attracting attention to tourism opportunities, and travel-related businesses use it to good effect too. But these contests aren't really relevant to a shopping experience, and the slim chance of winning probably won't draw new customers to a store.

When Amazon was getting started, it created a lot of positive buzz by including freebies such as coffee mugs and bookmarks in the delivery box with the books. Customers loved it.

Give your customers something small that's related to your business when they make a purchase. You'll score big points and generate repeat purchases.