Pot of Gold at the end of the Internet Rainbow

What marketing genius thought up this modern day internet version of Green Stamps?

I noticed this morning when taking a glucosamine dietary supplement pill that may or may not help an arthritic condition, a curious little sticker on the lid of the bottle that read, “Earn Points with Schiff Loyalty Rewards – Code Inside.” Of course I opened it and learned I should “START SAVING YOUR POINTS TODAY! It’s Easy!” So now, I’m instructed to go directly to: http://www.saveupforsomeuselessjunk.com for detailed instructions on just how to enter my secret code. Why I would want to do this is not discussed.

Since I have better things to do (like write this mini-rant) that’s where I got off the boat and I’m left to imagine what pot of gold awaits at the end of the internet rainbow. If I remain a loyal customer and amass a fortune of bonus points over the next 10 years from my semi-annual purchase of pills, is there a shiny new Chrysler mini-van in my future? A free trip for two to Atlantic City? Or perhaps a gold plated pill case? For those who don’t want to risk that Chrysler mini-vans will be discontinued long before you save enough bonus points or are just not into delayed gratification, a $1 off coupon might be had for a mere 25 points. What marketing genius thought up this modern day internet version of Green Stamps?

Of course marketers have been trying to entice customers with these gimmicks since the beginning of time. At their peak, there were Stamp Wars at the supermarkets and a number of competing stamp companies emerged. Back then the stamp merchandisers were issuing three times more stamps than the U.S. Post Office. Before they began to dispense S&H Green Stamps to lure and instill loyalty in customers, I recall beverage glass and dishware giveaways for gassing up your car at the full-service gas station while your oil was checked and windows washed. Boy, those days are long gone. Believe it or not though, S&H is still around and now offers “green points” that can be redeemed over the internet. If per chance you have any books of vintage Green Stamps lying around from 1966, you can still exchange them for the more modern “green points” eligible for on-line rewards or turn them in for $1.20 in cash each at http://www.greenpoints.com.

My earliest memories of redeemable coupons were not stamps but rather the multi-color and multi-denominational points that you won playing Skee Ball and other addictive arcade games on the boardwalk. Each game was a nickel and typically one might roll 5 or 10 games at a shot. When the game was over you called over the attendant – usually a high school kid working for the summer – and he would dole out the proper number of tickets determined by your score. Then the Big Decision was at hand… did you take the measly 10 – 25 points you’d just earned and turn them in for an instantly gratifying but chintzy reward from beneath the dusty glass case (typically a secret decoder ring or cheap set of Jacks) or hold onto your tickets for some larger seemingly unobtainable prize like a rod and reel for the mere sum of 850 points. Of course there was a middle ground in which you might save your tickets from 4 – 5 visits and get something with a modicum of value, say a water pistol.

So back to the marketing strategy that I’m sure Schiff Nutrition Group, Inc., paid some Madison Ave. firm top dollar to conceive. Do they honestly think consumers will spend the time saving up imaginary points “earned” from purchasing their products several times per year? If they’re looking to provide that one last incentive to purchase their brand over the Acme Glucosamine pill, I’d rather have a Cracker Jack prize in the bottle.

Published in: on August 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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