Monday 3 March 2008

Free Stuff

Isn't it amusing (or sad, I am not sure which) that no matter who we are, what we have or where we come from we seem to get a huge thrill out of getting something for nothing.

I was looking at a magazine this morning with pictures of Hollywood stars leaving an event carrying bags and bags of free 'stuff' courtesy of various companies. These so called stars obviously have lots in the way of material possessions yet most of them were laden down with as much as they could carry. What could they possibly want with it all?

I kind of understand. I know that feeling. It's called the free factor. No, I did not say the greed factor.

For instance, I get excited every time I get a free gift with a makeup product purchase. Given the price we pay for the products, and given the billions makeup companies are raking in, I think they owe it to us.

I recognise that it's a money making marketing spin, with very little return for the customer, yet I willingly fall for it each and every time. This may explain why I have so many beauty products in my possession. There is something about those words 'free gift with purchase', which causes my heart to race, my brow to sweat and my wallet to open. It's so addictive that I have been known to buy a product which I do not really need just so I can get the gift. I know I am not the only delusional one, as there is always a queue of women searching for something they can buy for the right price just to score that FREE GIFT. When it comes to Gift Time we women are armed, dangerous and not to be messed with. Normally mild mannered women have been known to arm wrestle each other to the death just to get that last gift on the shelf.

Invariably these gifts are shiny, glossy, well packaged product samples that you just have to have. By the time you get home and unwrap the tasty morsels the gloss has somehow worn off. It seems the excitement comes from the chase and the capture as opposed to the kill. The reality sets in when you throw the cute little makeup bag in the cupboard along with the 50 others you've already collected this year. Mmmm and you know that shade of pink lipstick is gorgeous but it isn't really your colour. Not to worry, you put it in the cupboard because one day it might be your colour. Then, there is the skincare for teenage skins. The problem is that you can't even remember being a teenager let alone what their skin is like. Oh well, you put that in the cupboard too because you're sure to come across a deserving teenager some time or other. Suddenly you realise that the only useful part of the free gift was either a sample mascara or a perfume. On a cost benefit analysis you have paid top dollar for a product you didn't really need in order to get a free sample mascara. Is that really worth it? You bet its worth it!

I wonder which cosmetic company first came up with the idea of the “Free Gift with Purchase” concept. I am sure they would all claim it as their own because it's a winner. I mean this highly successful profit making strategy disguised as a giving your loyal customers something free strategy is genius. It's looks like a win win for everyone. It is, right?

I actually read somewhere that Estee Lauder came up with the concept. I certainly think they were one of the first companies to do so anyway. Estée was a ruthless, savvy businesswoman and a pioneer in the industry when she started her company in 1946. She was a skincare and fragrance visionary there is no doubt about it. The woman knew how to sell, and if the whole gift with purchase phenomenon was her idea, then it’s no wonder that the Estée Lauder Company owns practically every other cosmetics company in the world. Alright, that’s an exaggeration, but they do own at least 25 other huge brands.

OK, well it's been nice chatting but I have to rush. I just happened to notice in this magazine that Chanel are giving away FREE makeovers with every skincare product purchased. They only have 10 left and the offer expires today....... I have to get there please get OUT OF MY WAY!!!! NOW!!!!!!