At the grocery store today, I noticed an end cap with nylon first-aid kit bags. The paperback-sized pouches were red, with a cross on them, and the manufacturers name: Johnson & Johnson. The display was a little confusing so I looked further. Turns out the bags were free, and empty of supplies, but filled with coupons for J&J products to stock them with. Pretty good idea, right? Give away the razor and then sell the blades.
It is in fact a good idea, but this one was executed improperly. The display did not at all make clear what the bags were all about – no signage to explain them. I also had to scan the bag at the check-out to discover that it was free (actually, one cent). No wonder I had seen the same display there for weeks with so few bags moving.
So lesson number one: outsource all the elements of a program that make sense, but make sure that you insource – and hold someone accountable for – the total execution and delivery of it. Clearly that didn’t happen here.
Lesson number two: What razor do you sell that you might give away? We see this tried-and-true tactic used too infrequently, I think. It applies perfectly to businesses that sell a product that uses consumables as well as the consumables. But it also can be used by consumable-only sellers if they make a special run of the unit that uses (or in this case, houses) them.