“Everybody likes something extra, for nothing.” – William Wrigley, Jr.
Why did Frederick and Louis Rueckheim, along with their partner Henry Eckstein, start putting small toy prizes in their boxes of Cracker Jack back in 1912? Perhaps it was the same reason Kelloggs started including various pin-back buttons in boxes of their Pep cereal in the 1940s or why McDonalds starting placing small toys in their Happy Meals in the 1970s?
It is because we all love a bonus — a fun surprise — or something extra we didn’t have to pay for. Successful marketers often package small giveaways with already popular products to increase the likelihood that customers will buy from them, rather than from their competitor.
The Power of Customer Bonuses
William Wrigley Jr., the founder of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, may have been a marketer ahead of his times — as he quickly realized the power of customer bonuses. In the 1890s Wrigley arrived in Chicago with $32 and needed to start making money.
He started by selling the soap his father’s company manufactured. In order to entice businesses and individuals to buy their soap from him he also offered customers free baking powder with each purchase. Customers loved the offer and kept coming back to Wrigley for their soap (and free baking powder).
Something curious happened though. Customers loved the baking powder so much that they started offering to buy even more of it from him. The free amount they received just wasn’t enough anymore.