Have you ever thought about the expiration dates on coupons? Are they really necessary? It’s not like someone is going to save a coupon and use it years later right…
Actually, a McConnell Marketing associate’s Grandmother was recently featured on General Mills’ blog by taking advantage of a coupon that was more than a few years past its intended use!
In 1984 Laurine Williams found an interesting piece of her mother’s old book collection, an original 1910 Gold Medal Flour Cookbook. On the last page of the book was a coupon for another free copy of the book, presumably so you could share with a friend. Williams wrote a letter to General Mills asking if she could redeem the coupon pointing out that it had no expiration date. Unfortunately, Williams didn’t send the letter immediately and it ended up lost.
Fast forward to 2012. Williams rediscovered her old letter and decided to send it in; at this point the offer for a free copy of the cookbook was over 100 years old! General Mills honored their original offer and sent Laurine a reprinted edition of the 1910 book. The company had actually begun reprinting the book because of situations like Laurine’s.
There is one significant change to the reprinted version of the book however, the word VOID is very clearly marked over the coupons in the back!
Old Coupons and Brand Equity
From a marketing perspective, the way General Mills handled this scenario is interesting.
They could have easily brushed the whole situation under the rug and no one, besides William’s would have noticed. Even then it’s hard to imagine that she would have been too upset with the company for not honoring a century’s old offer.
Really this story isn’t about General Mills honoring a coupon. It’s about the company going the extra-mile for a customer.
By putting in the time and effort to make sure that situations like Williams’ were handled appropriately, General Mills showed that they cared, something that can go a long way for a brand. Establishing trust with a customer base takes a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it. Which is why General Mills did what they did.
Word Travels Fast
Laurine Williams is likely to be a loyal General Mills customer as a result of what happened, but in today’s world of social media and viral information spread she’s not the only one who will have a changed opinion of the brand.
General Mills didn’t just gain one loyal customer; they likely increased trust and brand equity with everyone reading this story!
The takeaway from this for businesses shouldn’t be, “Hmmm that’s a quirky thing that company did”. It should be how can we go the extra mile for a customer, How can we gain trust through care! What is our 100-year-old coupon!?
So think about it. Has a company honored a 100-year-old coupon for you? Has your company done something unexpected for a customer?
Give us your examples in the comments below!