Online vs. Offline of brand-sponsored freebies

Yet another freebie with our regular purchase. The kids were intrigued by the idea. They tried it with lukewarm water, and Virat Kohli was mildly visible, much to their delight. The whole thing reminded me of hoax messages in the adult world – seeing the shape of Jesus in random unconnected things, Ganesha’s statue secreting milk etc. 🙂

With really hot milk, though, the effect they had promised was fantastic! See the ‘before’ and ‘after’!

But this post is not about faith. After seeing the freebie and the box it came in, I thought of the way a consumer stumbles on it in a store. I walk through the store along with my kids. I have Boost in my grocery list and go to the aisle in the store where health-drinks are stacked. I pick a 500gm Boost pack. My kids notice something written on another kind of pack – it says, free XYZ on the pack, and they insist I pick this one, instead of the plain pack since we get Boost on both occasions.

Or, Boost has a branded in-store point-of-purchase communication (banners, standees etc.). I, or the kids, notice it and decide to pick it up.

The reason why I start with this context is that we did not consciously pick up this pack with the freebie. We bought it online on Bigbasket and it just happened that they delivered this pack that comes with a freebie. So, it was a pleasant surprise for the kids!

So I went to the order on Bigbasket app to see if there was any communication or visible sign of this freebie that the company has conjured with some thought and plan (all such offers are thought-through and a lot of effort goes in promoting them). Nope, the order has the picture of a normal Boost pack!

I then look at Boost’s product listing on Bigbasket. Nope, no mention there either. There are Bigbasket’s own combo-offers mentioned with a highlight, but this company-sponsored freebie isn’t even mentioned anywhere! Ditto for Amazon Pantry, Flipkart Supermart, Grofers etc.!

Is there a way the company can recreate the offline in-store experience of stumbling on the availability of this freebie (maybe as a trigger from a print ad or a TVC) when a customer is shopping online?

One way to do that is to have a banner on the health-drinks page. But if a customer arrives at a particular product through search, the banner may not be seen at all. So, is there a way the brand can work with e-commerce stores to make such offers more specific and vocal?

One simple way is to update the product picture – I see on Amazon Pantry a pic of a Boost which has the Kohli-Blippar AR embedded. That one is not a freebie, just an on-the-pack promo. Assume there was a photo of the new pack that mentions the Virat-Kohli-cup-free on it. Would consumers notice that tiny addition in the product pic and then buy it consciously?

Why not recreate the offline user experience? For instance, work with a Bigbasket to update the product listing text itself (perhaps for a fee, a win-win for both the brand and the e-commerce store)? While we’re at it, why make it transactional (“Free Virat Kohli Magic cup with this pack”) – why not make it engaging and interesting considering the kids are not going to be around when a mom/dad is making this purchase on a mobile app?

Why not have a call-to-action for the mom/dad? The experience flow could be somewhat like this:

1. The user has Boost in mind already – searches for it and lands on the product page. The pic is updated to the one with the freebie mention on the pack. Plus there is a call-out – “Make sure you ask for the new Virat Kohli Magic cup free when ordering this pack!”.

2. The user is searching for malt-based health drinks and is in a category search results page – the banner announcing this freebie could come in handy in this context!

Any other way to recreate the offline, in-store experience of picking this freebie-pack consciously?

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