Thursday, January 31, 2013

Free Coupons Anyone?

The coupons were among the first ever used as marketing tools, and no other companies had much success with them for years. In 1909, C.W. Post of Post Cereals started using coupons to sell breakfast cereal by offering a 1 cent discount on each box of Grape Nuts, thus contributing to their widespread adoption. Today, coupon-based sales account for almost $3 billion sales per year in America alone.

 Did you know that Coca-Cola, one of the most ubiquitous products in the world, owes its success to pretty much one thing: free coupons?  Asa Candler, a pharmacist who purchased the formula for the soda in 1887, was known for his innovative marketing techniques and introduced a free sample coupon (the first of its kind) to the company's advertising program in 1894. 

The coupon entitled its holder to a free glass of Coca-Cola at his or her local soda fountain, which the company provided by sending free syrup to soda fountains across the nation. It is estimated that by the end of the original coupon program, 1894-1913, over 8.5 million free sodas had been claimed — one in nine Americans had sampled the product.

It's a jaw-dropping statistic, particularly for the time. In addition to running ads in magazines, Candler mailed the coupons to "likely consumers," most of who lived in towns where door-to-door mail service had not yet been established — there was enough buzz around the free product samples that people went to the post office specifically to pick up their coupon. By 1895, Candler announced to the company shareholders that Coca-Cola was being served in every state in the country.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Companies are Giving Away Free Product Samples

You might be wondering like I did before- why are companies spending money to give away free product samples to consumers?

I researched for the answer and here is what I found:

Giving away free product samples and free coupon started during the time of Mr. Asa Candler. Is this the first time you heard of his name?  Okay let’s try Coca Cola. Of course you’re familiar with that one right? Asa Candler is the pharmacist guy who bought Coca-Cola from John Stith Pemberton, the inventor of the sweet syrup that serves as the base for the drink.  By 1891, Candler had purchased the entire company for just $2,300, the equivalent of about $54,400 today.

He grew Coca-Cola into a global giant, using his master skills in marketing. He bestowed free samples on pharmacists and other consumers; he secured the earliest celebrity endorsements and fervently guards the Coca Cola secret formula. 

We all know now the power of advertising and it is being use continuously worldwide. But Candler was among the earliest entrepreneurs who took great advantage of it. It has nothing to do with a catchy company name or even a unique logo. Candler’s greatest achievement was his marketing strategy.

When he purchased control of Coca-Cola, it was a fledging five-cent soda fountain drink that only sold about nine glasses a day in its first year on the market. Why it has become so popular now? Candler is the ultimate marketer! What did he do? He gave away coupons for a free glass of Coca-Cola and offered pharmacists who were reluctant to sell the drink the first barrel of syrup for free.  Those same pharmacists quickly returned as paying retailers when they saw all the coupon-wielding customers wandering in.

The free coupon giveaway made a great impact on Coca cola’s success. Where do you think Candler got this bright idea?  It is from John Stith Pemberton bookkeeper, who started giving away tickets for free tastes of Coke, but Pemberton chided him for ‘extravagance.’ Then Candler who purchased Coca Cola from him picked up the idea and launched it. The coupon for free as we know it was born.

By 1913, Coca-Cola had redeemed 8.5 million ‘free drink’ coupons.” Even by today’s standards, that’s a lot of product for a relatively new company to be producing, let alone giving away for free. But as we all can see, it really paid off.

There you have it! Now you know why companies are giving away free product samples and free coupons. They let the products speak for it. Asa Candler let Coca-Cola do just that, and it said an awful lot.