The History of the Beauty Industry’s Most Salient Sales Strategy

The business decision of beauty companies giving a free Gift With Purchase originated some 70 years ago when Estee Lauder originated the practice of giving a free gift with purchase marketing strategy around this time.

“Estée Lauder created the free gift with purchase in 1946. It all began when Saks Fifth Avenue cosmetics buyer Robert Fisk finally responded to Estée’s “millionth” request and agreed to an order of $800 worth of her product. Soon after, Estée notified the store’s preferred customers via mail that she was offering a free cream-based powder with every purchase.

The result? Saks Fifth Avenue’s entire inventory sold out in just two days. Here, a nostalgic look back at some of the most memorable Estée Lauder Gifts With Purchase of decades past.”

Estee Lauder’s first gift with the purchase was a sky blue powder compact

This blue compact was the very first beauty counter gift with purchase. The compact came in the brand’s signature pale blue box, but the compact itself was also available in pearl white or turquoise. Estée Lauder apparently chose the pale turquoise color as the brand’s signature because she felt it lent an air of luxury and was a versatile shade that would match any bathroom décor. (Photo: Henry Leutwyler)

1956 GWP: Free Estée Lauder Translucent Face Powder

In 1956, a purchase of your choice of Estée Lauder cosmetics scored you a gratis box of Translucent Face Powder. This ad also notified customers of a personal appearance by an Estée Lauder special representative and a recommendation for an easy-to-follow skin-care regimen.

1960s GWP: The Quick Facial Kit

Here, a quartet of skin-care essentials to prime your skin for complexion perfection. The set included Cleansing Oil, Creme Pack, Skin Lotion and Enriched Under-makeup Creme, all housed in a rectangular box.

1966 GWP: The Castilian Look By Estée Lauder

Inspired by the sultry style of Spain, this set contained a Translucent Powder Base, Translucent Face Powder and Castilian Lipstick.

Read more here for the complete #TBT of Estee Lauder’s GWP promotions.

Popular Advertising Techniques

Giveaways, gifts with purchase, and loyalty programs (sometimes known as a free premiums or ‘freemiums’) were also a widely popular advertising techniques in the 1950s -1980s. Banks gave away toasters for new accounts opened, cigarette companies promised loyal smokers prizes ranging from ashtrays to dartboards to cowboy hats, and dish soap was packaged with bonus steak knives. But these freebies fell out of favor about 20 years ago because of fraud, changing trends, and a new emphasis on online data collection — except in the case of health and beauty products.

The personal-care industry is one of few fields still using the allure of “free” to attract consumers and increase the perceived value of their products — and unlike other marketers, they will not stop anytime soon.

Modern Day GWP

Gift-with-purchase promotions are so pervasive today that it is a challenge for any one particular brand to stand out. Brands often try to outdo one another.

Every significant holiday sale is accompanied by a free pouch or a tote with purchase.

Even as other industries have given up on giving you freebies, the makers of your favorite lipstick, foundation, and eyeliners will never quit offering you a gift with your purchase.

GWPs can leave a customer feeling so good about their purchase, get additional products into their hands and impact their selection decision when they are faced with many options. GWP is a great marketing tool.

How To Get the Most Benefit from Your GWP Program

Like every responsible business, companies in the beauty industry work with strict budgets. It is the job of suppliers to make sure that what is ordered and produced meets these basic criteria:

  • Fits within the brand messaging
  • Is something the customers will actually want
  • Designed to add as much value as possible
  • Can be manufactured and delivered on time
  • And, of course, will fit within the budget

From the time one sets eyes on a bag, to touching and feeling it to using it, the consumer will form opinions that tie in with the brand. Choosing the right materials and accessories as well as design takes careful and timely consideration but it’s critical. It’s a delicate balancing act in the world of Gift With Purchase to mix all of above criteria just right, and do it for spring, fall and holidays.

Laura Geller Gift With Purchase for QVC

In a retail environment where consumers seek out the store or website specifically for the gifts, it has become even more important that every promotion hits the right mark.

This woven tote produced by CDP for Laura Geller was sold on QVC. It was a gift with a purchase of a makeup set. We were told that QVC ordered the makeup set on the condition that the tote accompanied the set. The end result – the entire lot sold out!


Blogs Dedicated To Posting About GWP Promos

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