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Give free stuff and they will come: Countdown seeks to lure shoppers with glassy offering

While New World is busy trying to win shoppers' hearts with nostalgia, and Pak ‘n Save with stickmen, Countdown is once again tugging at the most powerful of consumer heartstrings: free stuff. Off the back of its popular knives promotion, which saw more than 700,000 free Thomas Knives snapped up by customers, the supermarket has launched its Royal Worcester glasses promotion, and it's confident this one will be just as successful as its predecessor.

Of course it’s not just about benefiting the customers. Promotions like these are a valuable tool in building brand loyalty for Countdown. General manager of marketing at Countdown,  Bridget Lamont, says the promotion did contribute to an increase in sales, a combination of customers choosing to shop at Countdown to earn the stamps required to fill their saver cards, and many spending a little more to reach the $20 required to earn a stamp.

“Customers also liked the aspect of collecting the bonus stamps and sticking them onto the saver cards,” she says. “The functionality of the promotion provided great water cooler conversation too – we had even heard of people trading the stamps like currency and auctioning them on TradeMe.”

The campaign's popularity, however, wasn't necessarily expected and after receiving numerous queries from customers about the possibility of another promotion, the decision was made to launch the glasses campaign.

“We didn’t foresee the Thomas Knife promotion being as successful as it was, and we’ve taken away many learnings from that campaign to help us with an even better execution for the Royal Worcester glasses.”

As well as the 700,000 free knives dished out, a further 200,000 knives were purchased using a mix of stamps and part-payment. At various stages the supermarket even ran out of knives and extended its redemption period, though a look through Countdown's Facebook page reveals a few disgruntled customers frustrated by the whole process.

Giving away free stuff is one of the most basic and traditional forms of marketing. And while Countdown has been actively promoting itself in the social media and  technology space (its supermarket shopping app was downloaded 45,000 times in its first two weeks), Lamont says there’s plenty of room for the old and the new to co-exist. To that end it's using digital advertising extensively to spread the word about the glasses promotion, including direct emails to Onecard customers and information on the Countdown website. Online shoppers also receive their free bonus stamps. Promotional efforts have also leveraged Countdown's 118,000 Facebook fans.

“We have received fantastic feedback on Facebook, and it has been fascinating to watch this dialogue between our customers. Social media allows us to talk with our customers in real time about the promotion and enables us to react and respond quickly if necessary,” says Lamont. “That said, the great thing about these simpler promotions is that it is tangible and in real-time – the instant reward at checkouts and the ability to visibly keep track of your progress and work towards a goal are great promotional elements which are tried and true."

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