Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ode to the gift with purchase; the importance of setting appropriate expectations

Gift with purchase, gift with purchase, I get so excited for a gift with purchase.

The gift with purchase is a marketing strategy to entice you to buy something you may not have thought about, or to buy more of something you may have purchased anyway.  This certainly works and is a win for all parties involved.  While you may or may not have planned to purchase t

hat item you, the consumer, gets more for your dollar.  The seller gets positive feelings, potentially additional brand loyalty, and a sale.  Everyone enjoys receiving gifts and giving gifts also feels really good.

Every so often, however, the stars align and at the moment you need it, there is a gift accompanying a purchase you were planning to make anyway.  This is a special level of awesome.  It is such a rare moment in ordinary life that you get something for nothing that it makes the heart jump.  I am excited just thinking about such a coincidence.  If I were producing a stage show about consumerism, it certainly would have a choreographed song and dance number dedicated to the gift with purchase.  It would go something like this:

Scene: Department store fragrance department. Glass cases filled with colorful boxes.  Large display boxes placed in the aisles. 

Woman dressed in a pencil skirt with a French twist in her hair approaches the counter with a business like air.  Behind the counter is a young man in all black with a colorful tie.

Woman: (to the young man, speaking with a flat tone) Hello sir. I need to purchase some mascara.

Young man: (in an energetic, dynamic, varying, and theatrically toned voice) Well ma’am today is a good day for you.  (rolls his head from the product up right, down to the counter, and left looks up at the woman as a large smile spreads across his face) Today, that mascara comes with a gift.

Woman: (somewhat surprised as her tone heightens and becomes more dynamic) You mean (pause) a gift with purchase?!? But why?

[cue music: dunt dunt dunt dunt. Dunt, dunt, dunt dunt...]

Young man: (slowly transitioning into song) That’s right. Today is your lucky day. As a thank you for being you, and consumering the way you do, we kindly give this gift to you. This gift- with- purrrchase.

[second young man dressed the same but with different brightly colored tie leans in and harmonizes]

1st and 2nd young man: Gift-with-purrrchase.
[Woman’s expression goes from surprised to happy.  several more young men dressed all in black with different brightly colored ties assemble in formation in the aisle. Marching in place, they sing in unison]

Young men’s chorus: We surely do appreciate, your willing to participate, in shopping at a heightened rate

One of the young men yells: our profit /earnings will not be late!

Young men’s chorus: Here’s-a – gift wiiitthhh puurrrchase!

[flurry of running as the young men run around the display and other assorted shoppers seem to come from all over]

Shoppers singing in unison: We surely do appreciate, you offering right out the gate, this gift! this gift! It must be fate! Gift- with-purrrchase.

[woman sitting on a large display is pushed by one of the young sales men from right to left with a spin at center stage followed by a young man, smiling with eyebrows raised runs across and does a splits in the air center stage towards the audience]

young men’s chorus in unison with shoppers: [in formation, sing to crescendo as arms raise] Gift-with- purrrchase!

I could go on but I feel it is often best to cut scene at the crescendo.

A similar scene played out for me in real life, minus the singing and dancing, and ultimately with a little more effort this week.  You may recall my previous post on scent.  After exhausting the free sample bottle of Versace Bright Crystal that intoxicated me from Nordstrom I set out to purchase a full bottle.  I opened my Macy’s weekly circular last Sunday to find they were offering an adorable Versace cross body clutch with the purchase of Versace Bright Crystal.  The tiny picture caught my attention and brightened my spirits.  That’s right, gift-with- puurrrchase!  

I headed to the mall, but supplies did not last until my arrival.  The woman at the Macy’s fragrance counter scoured the back room, and called another employee they had seen with the bag a day earlier to double check she had not missed the bags in the store room.  She didn’t seem to know much about the offer but she was willing to put in the effort to find it for me.  After learning their supply had been exhausted, she ordered the fragrance for me online.  I watched as an image of the bag appeared on her computer screen and she punched in some codes.  She assured me that both the scent elixir and the adorable bag would arrive at my home, sans shipping costs, in a few days.  I left with a smile, and another bag of assorted sample scents to try. 

When the package arrived a few days later I was confused to find there was no gift with my purchase as she had promised.  “Perhaps it is coming separately?”  I thought hopefully.  I called customer support and learned not only was it not coming separately but that they had no record the order was supposed to include a gift with purchase.  I may have seen it on the screen but the representative had not placed the order correctly and the customer service representative indicated while he empathized there was nothing he could do about it. 

If we were in the musical this would go something like this:

Young man: (his face fallen) Stop the music; stop the music.  (Singing slowly and in a lower tone) ma’am I must report, a disappointment of a sort, our gift supply has just run out. 

(The woman stares open mouthed in disbelief.  all chorus and shoppers stop and stare at the young man with disappointed and blank stares, not much motion not sure what to say; music plays: Whomp, whomp whomp, and then quietly violins)

In reality I shared a few choice words with the customer service representative.  Fully acknowledging it was not his fault but that I wanted to formally express the importance of appropriate training for their staff and the importance of setting appropriate expectations.  I may have lost my cool but broken promises are a hot button of mine.  It’s the principle of the thing.

The week was a rollercoaster of consumerism.  I started out blissful that I was getting something for nothing.  I waited in anticipation for days and ended up especially upset because, while I had a low effort shopping trip at the store I would have been willing to put in some additional effort and stop at one of the other Macy’s I passed that day to inquire about free gift supplies.  Now my excitement crushed, it seemed too late.  (Tiny violins play).

I composed myself and called a different (and closer to my home) Macy’s location and inquired about the Versace gift with purchase.  I was greeted with a sweet voice and an instruction to hold while the sales person on the other end checked supplies. Luckily they had two left in stock. “Hold that gift, Im on my way,” I instructed.  Brenda, my local fragrance professional came to the rescue!

Young men’s chorus in unison with shoppers: (frowns turning upside down, raising arms with jazz hands flailing as they sing, loudly in unison, along with whistles and tambourines’ jingling) Giiiffftttt wiiitttthhhh puuurrrrchassseee!

Racing through midtown traffic at 4pm on a Friday was easier said than done but I made it to the store in 20 minutes.  Brenda was courteous and informed.  She also had a gift set for relatively the same price as the perfume by itself, and most importantly the gift with purchase.  I made my larger than anticipated purchase, shared my story, and breathed a sigh of relief as I also had a feeling of victory!  My bliss had returned and I had obtained something for nothing but an extra trip to the store.  Yeah for my gift with purchase!

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