BrainTrust Query: How Much Does a Free Cone from Baskin-Robbins Really Cost?
Commentary by Marc Gordon, President, Fourword
Nothing says happy birthday like ice cream.
Especially when that ice cream comes free from Baskin-Robbins. That’s right.
America’s largest ice cream chain sent me an email on my birthday for a
free ice cream cone.
Wait a sec. Was it really free? Let’s take
a closer look.
Despite the fact it cost me nothing in the
way of cash, I still had to give in order to get. Here’s a list of the
items I had to provide in order to get my “free cone”:
date of birth
full mailing address
option of adding a family member with all their contact information
favorite flavor of ice cream
favorite Baskin-Robbins product
option to receive additional coupons and promotions by e-mail
What would all that information be worth
to a company? Better yet, what is all that information worth to me?
With privacy concerns at an all time high,
getting people to share any amount of personal information can be a challenge
at best. For many retailers, loyalty programs have proved to be the best
method of capturing consumer information. However the initial infrastructure
cost is high. The only hope for ROI is through bigger baskets and more
Baskin-Robbins, on the other hand, only pays
for what they get. And with a minimal infrastructure cost, there’s less
pressure to hit quotas. But is this a classic case of getting what you
pay for when it comes to data mining?
“Sophisticated loyalty programs tend to bring
more reliable information,” said Doron Levy of Captus Retail Consulting.
“The customer views these programs as more formal and are willing to share
more information in a more honest way.”
How much reliable information can you get
for the cost of an ice cream cone? When I asked the media representative
for Baskin-Robbins about their concern regarding the accuracy of information
gathered, he would not share details with me. Nor would he comment on the
success of the program, only to say it plays a part of their overall marketing.
So with my ice cream in hand, I have to wonder
who got the better end of the deal. As I had to show ID along with the
coupon in order to get my ice cream, meaning — I had to give my real name,
age, and e-mail — perhaps them. Combine that with the fact that I brought
my kids and ended up spending almost 8 bucks, all of a sudden my free ice
cream seems to come with a hefty price tag.
What do you think of Baskin-Robbins’ free-cone-on-your-birthday promotion,
given its requirements? How great do you think consumer privacy concerns
are relative to such promotions? Are the limits to the reliability of
the information a significant drawback?