Sales promotions are marketing activities that simulate consumer purchases and improve retailer or middlemen effectiveness and cooperation. Cents off in store demonstrations samples, coupons gifts, product tie ins contests, sweepstakes sponsorship of special events such as concerts and fairs (even donut parades), and point of purchase displays are types promotion devices designed to supplement advertising and personal selling in promotional mix.
Sales promotions are short term efforts directed to the consumer or retailer to achieve such specific objectives as consumer product trial or immediate purchase, consumer introduction to the store, gaining retail point of purchase displays encouraging stores to stock the product, and supporting and augmenting advertising and personal sales efforts. For example Procter & Gamble’s introduction of Ariel detergent in Egypt included the Ariel Road show a puppet show (not the little Mermaid!) that was taken to local markets in villages where more than half of all Egyptians still live. The show drew huge crowds entertained people, told about Ariel’s better performance without the use of additives and sold the brand through a distribution van at nominal discount. Besides, creating brand awareness for Ariel, the road show helped overcome the reluctance of the rural retailers to handle the premium priced Ariel. Perhaps our all time favorite example in this genre is the Simpsons international festival sponsored by Fox in Hollywood in 2000. Spain’s Simpson trivia champion defeated 11 other global contestants in the Bart Bowl World Finals.
In markets where the consumer is hard to reach because of media limitations, the percentage of the promotional budget allocated to sales promotions may have to be increased. In some less developed countries sales promotions constitute the major portion of the promotional effort in rural and less accessible parts of the market. In parts of Latin America a portion of the advertising sales budget for both Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola is spent o carnival trucks, which make frequent trips to outlying villages to promise their products. When a carnival truck makes a stop in a village it may show a movie or provide some other kind of entertainment; the price of admission is an unopened bottle of the product purchased from the local retailer. The unopened bottle is to be exchange for a cold bottle plus a coupon for another bottle. This promotional effort tends to stimulate sales and encourages local retailers who are given prior notice of the carnival’s truck’s arrival, to stock the product. Nearly 100 per cent coverage of retailers in the villages is achieved with this type of promotion. In other situations village merchants may be given free samples have the outsides of their stores painted, or receive clock signs in attempts to promote sales.
An especially effective promotional tool when the product concept is new or has a very small market share is product sampling. Nestle baby foods faced such a problem in France in its attempt to gain share from Gerber, the leader. The company combined sampling with a novel sales promotion program to gain brand recognition and to build goodwill. Since most French people take off for a long vacation in the summertime, piling the whole family into the car and staying at well maintained campgrounds. Nestle provided rest stop structures along the highway where parents could feed and change their babies. Sparkling clean Le Relais Bebes are located along main travel routes. Sixty four hostesses at these rest stops welcome 120,000 baby visits and dispense 600,000 samples of baby food each year. There are free disposable diapers, a changing table and high chairs for the babies to sit in while dining. Finally, while all a software firms decry piracy in foreign markets as a costly crime, most recognize that in some sense it is actually a form of product trial.