Promotions are more than just discounted sales

Posted: December 2022

For many, particularly FMCG brands, promotions are seen as a necessary loss leader in order to retain or increase shelf space with key retailers.

There are also a wealth of articles and evidence suggesting that promotions might be a long-term detriment to a brand (with a hat tip to messers Binet & Field who argue that short term promotions have a place alongside long term brand building).

But why is this?

Because promotions are considered as loss-leaders, discount or get one free campaigns which eat into the bottom line as sure as New Order’s Blue Monday sleeve design (the high concept sleeve design lost money for every sale, and famously went on to become the biggest selling 12” of all time).

But not all promotions are built equal

You can get a lot more bang for your buck using promotional mechanics other than pure discounting, and often gain extra value in developing your audience or CRM too.


Let’s take a look at a few mechanics to consider…


Free Trial Cashback

There’s no better way to show pride and confidence in your product than to offer a free trial, with a guaranteed cashback if the consumer isn’t satisfied.

This can be managed end-to-end, with receipt validation, treasury management and returns processing leaving you to assess the uplift in sales against the typically low claim rate.

Prize Draw

Make your promotional budget go further by offering a fixed number of appealing prizes designed around your brand and consumer profile, from a free cup of coffee to a money can’t buy experience.

The incentive is the appeal of the prize, which will have a set budget and so success is not punished by continued cuts to the margin.

Instant Win

Encourage purchase and repeat purchase by offering a chance to win every time your product is bought with a broader range of prizes and typically a larger prize fund than a simple prize draw.

A fixed number of prizes made available across the campaign flight ensures an ongoing winning feeling, and a perceived greater chance of winning without breaking the bank.

Gift With Purchase

Add value to the purchase rather than devaluing with a price discount by offering an on-brand freebie with every purchase during the promotion window.

This could be a complimentary product, a brand partner, a free sample of another product in your portfolio or an item of branded merchandise keeping your brand front of mind.


Offer something more engaging and creative to your consumers, with the chance to win something too of course.

The key here is in running a campaign which gives you more than just entries – it could be a challenge, an online game or a user generated content (UGC) campaign such as a photo contest on Instagram, a design the pack concept or a managed public vote (no Boaty McBoatface here). Like the prize draw, you still operate to a fixed prize fund but gain something of value back to use across social, in store and beyond.

We hope you like these examples, and they give you some ideas for future campaigns. If you’d like to talk to us about a brief, click here.

You may also like to sign for our free NDL Promotions mini-course to find out how to get the most from your promotions and which promotional mechanics are best suited to your business objectives.

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