Sales promotions are an integral part of any marketing strategy. Well-planned promotions not only provide incentives to customers but also enable businesses to clear inventories, lift sales during lean periods, bring in additional revenue, and attract new customers.
This comprehensive guide covers 16 stellar sales promotion examples used by leading brands. We analyze what made them so successful and how you can take inspiration from them to create compelling promotions that deliver record-breaking results.
Table of Contents
- 1. FOMO discount by Booking.com
- 2. Bulk discount by Costco
- 3. Loyalty program by Sephora
- 4. Free gift with purchases by Kylie Cosmetics
- 5. Contest by Mountain Dew
- 6. Limited edition products by Disney
- 7. Bundle deals by Squatty Potty
- 8. Referral program by Dropbox
- 9. Seasonal sale by Wayfair
- 10. First-time discount by Instacart
- 11. App-exclusive deal by Starbucks
- 12. Student discounts by Adobe
- 13. Celebrity partnerships by Crocs
- 14. Cashback offers by Rakuten
- 15. Buy one get one offer by Barnes & Noble
- 16. Giveaway contest by Faguo
What is sales promotion?
Sales promotion refers to marketing strategies focused on spurring immediate sales through special incentives, discounts, demonstrations, and more. Sales promotion campaigns use short-term tactics to attract customers and boost purchase rates in a shorter period of time.
The goal behind all sales promotion activities is to create an immediate spike in sales. The tactical nature of sales promotion also makes it useful for established brands looking to hit specific targets or to lift stagnating sales levels. With that in mind, let's look at the 16 best sales promotion examples.
16 Best sales promotion examples
We went through various marketing campaigns and shortlisted the best 16 sales promotion strategies followed by renowned brands and the results they achieved. Let's dive in to know what we can learn from each.
1. FOMO discount by Booking.com
Booking.com sparks purchase motivation by triggering the fear of missing out. Hotel listing pages showcase badges like “Just booked!” or “Last room available”. These build a sense of urgency by indicating high demand and prompt consumers to lock in the deal.
Similarly, a countdown showing the validity of the discounted rates compel instant action. Booking.com strategically displays “Only 2 rooms left at this price” to pique interest, making offers look scarce and exclusive. It also creates a sense of urgency that results in higher conversion rates.
2. Bulk discount by Costco
Bulk discounts reward shoppers for buying products in higher quantities, and Costco employs this tactic effectively by slashing prices on bulk purchases. For context, a 2 pound jar of Nutella costs $7.99 at Costco. The same 1.05 lb jar costs $9.98 at Walmart.
The discounted per-unit rate strongly motivates larger purchases and cements Costco’s positioning as the go-to for affordable bulk buys. This appeals greatly to large households, businesses, and bargain seekers. Costco’s compelling bulk discounts have powered over $222.7 billion in net sales in 2022.
3. Loyalty program by Sephora
Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program offers escalating rewards based on three tiers defined by the annual spending of the customer on their website:
Insider - $0 - $350
VIB - Over $350
Rouge - Over $1000
Members earn points and redeem free samples and gifts. Higher tiers unlock additional perks like free shipping, early access to sales, exclusive products, and more. The program gives customers an incentive to spend more to reach the next tier and enjoy superior rewards. It also boosts retention by fostering loyalty over longer lifecycles per customer.
4. Free gift with purchases by Kylie Cosmetics
Kylie Cosmetics offers free mini lip kits as gifts when the order value is over $40. This allows customers to sample new products while also getting more value from their purchase. Data shows that free gifts increase brand loyalty. By using gifts as incentives, Kylie Cosmetics records over a billion dollars in revenue annually.
5. Contest by Mountain Dew
In 2020, Mountain Dew created the “Dew Nation Rewards” promotion where shoppers could win prizes like trucks, cash up to $50,000, or a million reward points. Customers had to scan in-store displays or make qualifying purchases to participate. This incentivized purchase behavior while driving engagement.
6. Limited edition products by Disney
Disney frequently debuts limited-edition collectibles like clothing, home decor items, accessories, etc. for short periods. The exclusivity of such collections makes them highly coveted. This creates immense demand for the limited edition products, with certain limited collections selling out fully within hours. Limited releases allow Disney to charge premium prices, capture attention amid intense competition, and generate buzz.
7. Bundle deals by Squatty Potty
Product bundling enables you to increase sales, revenue, and customer average order value (AOV). Customers enjoy it since they may save money by purchasing a package, as well as try new things with less risk. Store owners love it because it boosts their average order value, drives more sales, saves money on marketing, and keeps low-selling products in circulation.
Squatty Potty, the FDA-approved manufacturer of pooping gear, nails this method. Given how rarely a single buyer would purchase a toilet brush and brush holder combination, Invisibrush classifies the product as a one-time purchase item.
8. Referral program by Dropbox
Dropbox offers existing users free storage space as a reward when they refer friends to sign up. Members can earn up to 16GB of free space this way. This compels users to voluntarily promote the brand within their network. According to Dropbox, the referral program increased their conversion rate by 3900% in less than two years. Organic subscriber growth through word-of-mouth referrals has expanded Dropbox’s user base exponentially over the years.
9. Seasonal sale by Wayfair
Seasonal sales drive not only revenue but also more clicks, conversions, and traffic to online stores.
For example, Wayfair held a two-day site-wide retail fiesta called "Way Day" in the spring. It also offered a five-day peak holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. What was the result? Repeat customers accounted for 73% of holiday orders throughout the five-day period, while hundreds of thousands of new consumers placed their first orders with Wayfair.
10. First-time discount by Instacart
Grocery delivery service Instacart offers $10 off on first-time orders with a minimum spend. This gives new customers a risk-free incentive to try Instacart’s services, experience the convenience first-hand, and get hooked on the platform. In 2021, the number of first-time Instacart orders grew by 15%, directly boosted by such new user acquisition offers.
11. App-exclusive deal by Starbucks
Starbucks frequently runs in-app-only promotions like bonus stars on certain drinks or free coffee upgrades. Restricting deals to app members drives app downloads and registrations to unlock access. Once a customer progresses down the purchase funnel on the app, it further lifts purchase frequency and transaction sizes. This technique resulted in a remarkable 12% increase in in-store sales and an estimated $26 billion in yearly revenue.
12. Student discounts by Adobe
Adobe offers special discounted subscription rates exclusive to students and teachers. They get a 65% off on the Creative Cloud plans. This makes the suite more accessible for classrooms and budding creators.
It hooks young audiences early on in their creative journeys, priming them for potential full-priced subscriptions post-graduation when they enter the workforce.
13. Celebrity partnerships by Crocs
Crocs frequently collaborates with celebrities like Post Malone, Justin Bieber, and Bad Bunny to launch limited-edition clog designs. Scarcity and celebrity hype generate enormous demand, with certain collaborations selling out fully within minutes. The Post Malone partnership reportedly contributed to a 68% jump in 2020 sales for Crocs. Additionally, StockX, a prominent resale site, presented its 2020 end-of-year report, which showed a 750% increase in Crocs sales.
14. Cashback offers by Rakuten
Cashback portal Rakuten pays back users a percentage of their purchase amount in eligible stores. Brands like Walmart, Best Buy, and Nike offer up to 10% cashback. These savings essentially reward customers for choosing Rakuten affiliate stores over its competitors. It also incentivizes loyal repeat purchases rather than deal hunting at other stores. Rakuten's Cash Back program increased sales per buyer by 61% and average order value by 64%, generating more revenue for the businesses.
15. Buy one get one offer by Barnes & Noble
Buy one, get one free (BOGO) discounts are among the most common types of sales promotions. Offering one of the two in-demand products at a discounted price for a limited period promotes a sense of urgency, which can increase sales. BOGO promotions are frequently referred to as "self-liquidating" in business circles because they can help clear inventory.
Barnes & Noble, for example, offers appealing BOGO bargains that allow customers to buy one book and receive another at half price, catering to people of all ages. Some of these promotions are time-limited, creating a sense of urgency, while others last until supplies run out.
16. Giveaway contest by Faguo
A giveaway on your brand's website or your target audience's preferred social media platform is an excellent method to attract new consumers and increase the number of quality followers. For example, Faguo, a French apparel brand, promotes a product contest with a spin-the-wheel popup.
Any visitor can participate. All they have to do is type in their name and email. It's no surprise that this promotional strategy generates 5,000 leads every month. Even better, Faguo leveraged the wheel to make the contest experience more engaging, which contributed significantly to the campaign's success.
Incorporating exclusivity, discounts, urgency, or luxury into promotions can deliver tremendous revenue lifts. Observe user behavior, promote strategically, track performance data, and continuously optimize your promotions to make the most of your marketing efforts. You can take inspiration from the examples and tactical tips outlined in this guide to make your promotions more successful and drive revenue.
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