Do you like free samples? Most people do. A sample is a sales promotion in which a small amount of a product that is for sale is given to consumers to try. Samples increase awareness, so the strategy encourages trial and builds awareness. You have probably purchased a product that included a small free sample with it—for example, a small amount of conditioner packaged with your shampoo. Have you ever gone to a store that provided free samples of different food items? The idea for giving away samples is to get people to buy a product. Although sampling is an expensive strategy, it is usually very effective for food products. People try the product, the person providing the sample tells consumers about the product, and mentions any special prices for the product.
In many retail grocery stores, coupons are also given to consumers with the samples. Coupons provide an immediate price reduction off an item. The amount of the coupon is later reimbursed to the retailer by the manufacturer. The retailer also gets a handling fee for accepting coupons. When the economy is weak, more consumers cut out coupons and look for special bargains such as double coupons and buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) coupons. While many consumers cut coupons from the inserts in Sunday newspapers, other consumers find coupons for products and stores online. Stores may also provide coupons for customers with a loyalty card.
Consumers can also download coupons on many mobile phones. Mobile marketing and the Internet provide consumers in international markets access to coupons and other promotions. In India, the majority of coupons used are digital, while paper coupons have the largest share in the United States. Over 80 percent of diapers are purchased with coupons; imagine how much easier and less wasteful digital coupons scanned from a mobile phone are for both organizations and consumers.
Point-of-purchase displays, including coupon machines placed in stores, encourage consumers to buy a product immediately. When a consumer sees a special display or can get a coupon instantly, manufacturers hope the sales promotion increases sales. Other sales promotions are conducted online. Online sales promotions include incentives such as free items, free shipping, coupons, and sweepstakes. For example, many online merchants such as Shoe Station and Zappos offer free shipping and free return shipping to encourage consumers to shop online. Some firms have found that the response they get to their online sales promotions is better than response they get to traditional sales promotions.
Another very popular sales promotion for consumers is a premium. A premium is something you get either for free or for a small shipping and handling charge with your proof of purchase (sales receipt or part of package). Remember wanting your favorite cereal because there was a toy in the box? The toy is an example of a premium. Sometimes you might have to mail in a certain number of proofs of purchase to get a premium. The purpose of a premium is to motivate you to a buy product multiple times. What many people don’t realize is that when they pay the shipping and handling charges, they may also be paying for the premium.
Contests or sweepstakes also attract a lot of people. Contests are sales promotions people enter or participate in to have a chance to win a prize. The Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes and the Monopoly Game at McDonald’s are both examples. The organization that conducts the sweepstakes or contest hopes you will not only enter its contest but buy some magazines (or more food) when you do.
Loyalty programs are sales promotions designed to get repeat business. Loyalty programs include things such as frequent flier programs, hotel programs, and shopping cards for grocery stores, drugstores, and restaurants. Sometimes point systems are used in conjunction with loyalty programs. After you accumulate so many miles or points, an organization might provide you with a special incentive such as a free flight, free hotel room, or free sandwich. Many loyalty programs, especially hotel and airline programs, have partners to give consumers more ways to accumulate and use miles and points.
Rebates are popular with both consumers and the manufacturers that provide them. When you get a rebate, you are refunded part (or all) of the purchase price of a product back after completing a form and sending it to the manufacturer with your proof of purchase. The trick is completing the paperwork on time. Many consumers forget or wait too long to do so. Consequently, they do not get any money back. This is why rebates are also popular with manufacturers. Rebates sound great to consumers until they forget to send it back.