Real You: When a free gift looks cheap

One of the guilty pleasures of cosmetics shopping is the gift with purchase, which has been luring us into retail stores since the beginning of time. I remember the good old days when the gifts were amazing: real leather totes; a full assortment of real-sized cosmetics; or a simple, but classy, special compact.

And while I realize it is the time of cut-backs, the lipstick economy is stronger than ever. Attempting to tap into that small splurge mentality is Clinique, with the buy something for $5 and get the gift above. Sure, the gifts looked cool when they were all stacked up everywhere around the counter: happy purple-sided glossy boxes, an interesting design on the front panel and on the back, a glamour shot of three products included inside. Caught my eye, and created a purchase.

But. When I arrived home and opened my box, I found a plastic-wrapped assortment of Barbie-sized products and a box that, upon closer examination, had a lot of asterisk disclaimers. That's a lot of packaging for not a lot of value, and it came across as a waste, not a gift. Just stick the miniature samples in the bag next time.

The days of glitzy packaging and over-promising/underdelivering are finished. It's time to be real. Genuine. And if you're not able to give a true, transparent gift to your customers, it's better to just give them a genuine thank you.

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