Saturday, July 07, 2012

Free Samples and Swag

I seem to get a ton of offers these days for free samples, free swag, and other incentives to engage with a company.  Often, this involves something as simple as "Liking" them on Facebook.  One recent offer which was good enough for me to accept was Presto Pizza.  The offer was for a kitchen apron.  Is a "Like" on my Facebook feed worth the cost of the apron to them?  They offered to throw in kitchen gloves for a post on my blog.  Are you, my loyal blog readers, worth that cost to Presto?  Apparently so.

In general, I wonder if this is an effective business strategy.  In the first dotcom boom, Internet companies were all about eyeballs.  No one cared about revenue let alone profit.  But that all went away with the crash in 2000-2002.  Now, companies need to have a clear monetization plan to get any kind of investment funding.  That doesn't mean immediate profitability, but at least some clue how to get from here to there.

So where does the freebie pitch fit in?  With the incredible growth of social media, all it takes is a couple of dozen people to share the offer and it could spread to thousands of people's screens.  On one hand, this is very inexpensive advertising and could have a strong impact on brand recognition.  But does that lead to new customers?  Will you buy any Presto Pizza now that you know they have given me (and maybe you too) a free apron?

There are two ways we can find out.  We can take the conceptual approach and analyze the marketing research literature for relevant studies and research results.  Or we can take the empirical results and see what happens.

Please let me know if you get the free apron from Presto after reading this post or my FB feed.  And also, let me know if you buy any Presto pizza.  I will count up the results and post a summary later.