Getting a promotion

By The Drum, Administrator

January 28, 2004 | 8 min read

As a nation, we’re consumed by getting a good deal. Just this month I found myself grabbing my Nuts at New Street station – I am, of course, referring to IPC’s new weekly men’s magazine, being given away in a “try me free” promotion.

It seems that, when parting with our hard-earned cash, us Brits are well represented by fictional misers Scrooge and Arkwright. And, while the likelihood of us all being visited by three ghosts or being persuaded to spend our cash by a busty NHS nurse called Gladys Emmanuelle is a tad unlikely, brand managers and sales promotion experts are busy conjuring up ideas to quench our thirst for a good deal.

The heavily saturated grocery market has also ensured that, for a brand to become a leader, it must constantly attract new customers, maintain a loyalty with existing customers and continue to add value. In attempting to achieve such targets, on-pack promotions have become a cast-iron fixture of the industry. It’s hard to go down any aisle in a supermarket these days and not be subjected to the all-singing, all-dancing offers that have consumed Fast Moving Consumer Goods.

From a consumer perspective, it’s no bad thing; there is more choice and there are more competitive prices than ever before and, with bonus offers sweetening the deal, long may the on-pack promotion trend continue. However, to what degree do these offers dictate the choice of our purchase from brand to brand, or offer incentive for us to purchase something new? Or is it the case that our purchases are determined by our preference over quality and incentives such as prizes are simply a bonus to the consumer?

Tina Morgan, marketing controller for MKM Marketing and Promotions, commented: “Price promotions can definitely lead to consumers purchasing the product only when it is on special offer – this is especially the case where the product is highly price sensitive. On-pack promotions give added value, which can both reward loyalty and incentivise purchase.”

Morgan went on to explain: “For example, if a brand was looking to increase loyalty then we would want to encourage repeat purchase – this would be done with a collector scheme, using on-pack tokens. To increase penetration and trial we would possibly use a ‘try me free’ and so on.”

Similarly, Tequila Manchester’s managing director, Steve Gumbrell, is confident that on-pack promotions are a useful incentive for purchase. He said: “It is certainly the case with instant win promotions, where evidence has revealed success in keeping people in a brand and getting people to try the brand. Instant win is all about playing and getting the satisfaction of an immediate result – but it can depend on your audience and the frequency of winners.”

Gumbrell has over 16 years of experience within sales promotions, working on a number of high-profile brands. One of the agency’s most recent on-pack promotions has been for Cussons’ Carex brand. The on-pack promotion coincided neatly with the TV advertisement theme of “Are you a washer or a walker”. Gumbrell explained, “The on-pack promotion, ‘Be a washer and win’, has been very successful. It worked using a coupon and instant win – the customers stood a chance of winning a trip to Center Parcs in Florida. However, the big decision with promotions is whether you use on-pack or off-pack and you need to know why – we decided to supplement an on-pack instant win promotion with information available on the web.”

Supporting on-pack promotions with off-pack information is certainly the route Sam Ellis, associate partner of sales promotion at Poulter Partners, sees the industry travelling. Commenting on how best to oil the cogs of the on-pack promotion machine, Ellis said: “On-pack promotions are most effective when part of an integrated promotional campaign. I think because on-pack offers very little space to communicate thoroughly it tends to be used for short, simple messages that will often redirect a consumer to a website or to a phone number.”

While Ellis maintains the necessity for fully integrated promotions, she does believe that the imagery of on-pack promotions can have an immediate effect. “Take the on-pack promotion we did for Napolina Tomatoes – in supermarkets where many brands in an aisle will look the same, an on-pack promotion was used to arrest people’s attention and disrupt their shopping pattern,” Ellis stated.

One of the most successful executers of on-pack promotions is Walkers Snacks. As a brand, Walkers Crisps has built a reputation as the UK’s number one - with 11million packs being opened every single day.

Over the past few years, Walkers has run an instant win (£20/free crisp) promotion, its hugely successful Books for Schools campaign and, just last year, ran its “Win a free Chinese or Indian meal” promotion.

Gumbrell believes the campaigns have been superbly implemented. He said: “Walkers has been hugely successful strategically, using back-to-back instant wins, well supported by off-pack activity. In particular, in its use of TV advertising – by creating great commercials using celebrities like Gary Lineker – Walkers has been proficient in adding value to the brand.”

Other companies synonymous with on-pack promotions include Kellogg’s, Proctor & Gamble and Nestle, the latter of which has a firm grasp on a number of markets, from cereal to chocolate to coffee. Brand manager for Nestle brand Matchmakers, Ant Etherington, is a strong supporter of on-pack promotions. Etherington, whose team has recently launched an on-pack promotion in association with Jongleurs, commented: “Matchmakers is delighted with the link between ourselves and Jongleurs Comedy Club. Matchmakers and Jongleurs Clubs are all about getting together, feeling good and having fun and this tool really helps give great exposure to both brands and their values.”

Ellis believes that tying products with films through on-pack promotions is another option that can be an extremely productive prop for companies to utilise. “Many firms exploit sponsorship through on-pack promotions – if licensing can be afforded, it can be very successful in offering incentive for purchase. Kellogg’s has been able to achieve this with the likes of Finding Nemo toys. However, the cost of licensing and the cost of the toys means that this is not always a viable option,” Ellis explained.

It’s not just films that offer the opportunity of sponsorship. Poulter Partners tapped astutely into the Football World Cup 2002 for Danepak. “On the knowledge that most of the games were screened in the morning in the UK, we felt this was an ideal opportunity for Danepak to sell more bacon. We ran an on-pack competition to win a share of £50,000 – the promotion proved hugely successful,” commented Ellis.

And not all on-pack offers have to involve redesigning packaging – compact media specialist Denny Bros is responsible for a type of self-adhesive label called Fix-a-Form. This tool has been used with a recent promotion for Camelot, whereby packs of Bold 2 in1 tablets and powder carried a voucher for a free Lotto ticket. Viewing the promotional tool from the other side of the fence, Barry Denny, managing director at Denny Bros, commented: “The number of on-pack promotions varies from time to time and year to year but it’s certainly here to stay. It’s very important – after all the advertising, it boils down to the customer in the supermarket. They see interesting offers and, once they’ve picked the item up to have a look, 90 per cent of the time it ends up in their trolley.”

When it comes to offering prizes, collectable items or free gifts, it’s vital to achieve synergy between the product and what is on offer. This is a trend that the experts expect to see a great deal more of in the future. Morgan commented: “In 2001, around 60 per cent of all on-pack promotions had direct relevance to the product/brand or target audience, leaving 40 per cent choosing incentives that were more generic – for example, holiday vouchers – great for mass appeal if target audience is wide-ranging but doesn’t always say much or endorse the product brand.

“Latest analysis of the later 2002 and 2003 campaigns shows that the majority of FMCG promotions now have direct relevance, and the quirkier, often, the better,” Morgan explained.

With market leading brands such as Cola-cola, Kellogg’s, Nestle and Walkers all proving that well-thought-out, strategic on-pack promotions do work at both shifting product and maintaining brand loyalty, it’s only a matter of time before more companies take heed, leaving consumers with decisions over which offer is most appealing to them. As for the future of the marketing tool, with ever-increasing competition between brands, we can expect to see on-pack promotions becoming more astute and well crafted. Watch this space.


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +