Of Gummy Bears and Reward Points

On Monday evening, my sister stepped into Walgreens for a quick couple of items. I followed her in. As she checked out, a large impulse display by the door showed bags of gummy bears — my brand — at two packages for $3. It was after dinner and, well, I like gummy bears.

I actually have a preferred brand.

So I grabbed two.

My sister, who was chatting with the clerk, said, “I’ll pay for those.”

“You don’t have to,” I responded. I was feeding an impulse — and my waistline.

“Don’t worry!” she said, smiling. “I’m going to get the points.”

Here it is two days later and I’m thinking of the trap we both got caught in. And I’m in marketing. I should realize it.

The gummy bears were eye-level for me, at six-foot-two. The clever folks at Walgreens central knew these treats are not candy for kids and therefore within the reach of little ones under three feet tall. I saw them clearly and the bright yellow sign proclaiming the sale price.

Further, these were not the store brand.

Brands sell better than store brands, even though it may seem equivalent. You might not be able to taste the difference in your gummy bears but I can.

I bet you don’t buy store brand peanut butter cups. You buy Reese’s.

Then there’s my sister. She wanted the reward points. Sure, my $3 purchase probably gave her very few points (in the scheme of things), obscured purposely so people can’t figure out how to beat the system.

But we all want the points. It’s the ultimate in gamification. It’s not about savings. It’s about winning.

I’m one flight away from Silver level on Delta and one night away from Gold level at Marriott.

I’m itching to earn.

My sister and I both succumbed to an impulse. And Walgreens is the richer for it.

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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at http://MichaelCheek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/MichaelCheek and see more about his professional experience at http://LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCheek. Reach him via e-mail at mcheek@gmail.com.

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