Friday, March 14, 2008

Where's the Golden Smurf?

We've got a Dutch store that really knows their marketing strategies!  Albert Hein is in constant competition with the other grocery stores and have been accused of having too high of prices in years past.  In an effort to draw more customers they've tried to prove that their just as thrifty-priced as the next guy by having cheap sales with special little gadgets to draw you in.  The year before we came Albert Hein created a sensation with the little fuzz balls with sticky feet, plastic eyes, and antennae.  For the life of me I cannot remember what they or even us call them.  If I were here during the craze I'm sure it would be a name I would never forget.  We've all played with them at one point in our lives, but the Dutch grocery store promotion took it to a whole new level.  With every euro you spent you got closer to receiving a free fuzz ball from the store and if you spent over a certain amount you could get this overgrown critter that was almost too big to put on your dashboard.  From what I hear people were putting them up for sale on the internet starting at 50 euros!

The latest craze has not only reached the adult population but also the children.  I've seen children waiting at the end of each aisle begging the customers leaving for a piece of the pie.  And I've also seen grandmas grab their cherished prize to their chest and deny these innocent little faces the joy of the game.  The Belgian created Smurfs are celebrating their 50th anniversary and now every Dutch person knows about it!   With every 15 euros spent the cashier hands you over a little package with a toy smurf hidden inside.  They've got all the most popular smurfs and you can "collect them all"!  With each package you get a zegel (coupon) which you can paste onto a form.  After filling in the total spaces with your zegels you can purchase a nice-sized stuffed smurf for the total of 4 euros.  Zegels or air miles are nothing new for the Dutch, as it is something you are asked every time you check out.  If you are one of the many people who collect these sticky squares you'll let them know you'd like them and they'll add it onto your final total and hand them over to you with your receipt for you to post into coupon books.  Once filled the books are returned for discounted prices or tickets for various museums or amusement parks.

In America I clipped coupons, but would not be distracted towards an item which wasn't on my shopping list just because I had a coupon for it.  I have never bought a lottery ticket in my life.  But the smurfs have captured me!  I've already gotten three stuffed Smurfettes for my girls to put in their Easter basket and they have collected every available tiny toy smurf except Gargamel's cat, Azrael (see, I can remember all these names from Brilsmurf (Brainy) to Smurfin (Smurfette), but Albert Hein was genius and planted 50 golden smurfs in those bags of smurfs.  They will not say what you'll get if you open up one of these packages and happen to find a golden smurf, but it's got to be good!  I'm thinking as good as a free year of groceries or a even 50% off for a year.  This delusion actually puts excuses into my mind to do shopping at Albert Hein rather than my regular and cheaper store, Dirk van de Broek.  I have found sales which my menu just happens to fit around at Albert Hein and I find myself lingering between cash registers debating which line is most likely to dish out a golden smurf!  I've gone blueming mad!  I know my chances are very slim when they've put out 27 million of the little blue buggers, but for some reason I can vividly imagine watching my kids tear into one of those packages to reveal a shiny golden smurf.  Genius, I tell you . . . genius!



Elizabeth said...

I'm both amused and annoyed that a store would use these sort of tactics to draw customers in. Amused because it works. Annoyed because it's forcing people to spend more money.
These toys that they are giving out remind me of the toys they give away at fast food restaurants in kids meals. I don't believe they last in our home more than 48 hours before they end up in the trash. The kids play with them once and that's it. Who needs more clutter?

Holy said...

It is genius. The lengths we will go to for such coveted items.

I haven't seen anything Smurf like in eons - I've been waiting for them to make a comeback because Care Bears and Cabbage Patch dolls have.

Speaking of Care Bears, they have a 25th anniversary Care Bear limited edition bear that I want to buy because it was the first b-day present hubby ever bought me, along with a matching set of yellow bathroom stuff....24 years ago.

And we're celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, so I may just pick it up because....

Your consumer promotions story reminds me of Holy Hub's escapades in NZ 15 or so years ago. One of the beer companies - Red Lion - had a promotion where you could win some stupid amount of money if the inside bottom of your can had the congratulations imprint on it.

Well guess how many cases and cases Holy Hub and his NZ buddy drank, just to try to win the contest. They should have at least earned stock in the company for their drinking efforts....egads. Oh well, it goes down in Schmidt family history lore, at the very least.

Jorge said...

I confess - I always found these ridiculous blue figures nearly irresistible. Have a wonderful Easter in the LowLands!

Anonymous said...

Wuppies! They were awesome!
I have not gotten myself a smurf, because by the time i got to go to Albert Heijn - there were none left. Too bad really, because i used to watch the smurfen every day when i was about Amara's age.
love, daphne

Mannyed said...

I would totally have gotten sucked up into that craze if I was there. The smurfs are sooo cute!

Nooner said...

"Drop a Vine" <--- very clever there, Jungle Mama!

Interesting marketing ploy they have going there. Here's hoping you land one of those golden ones!

~Nooner Smurf~

Jorge said...

Happy Easter to you and yours,

Nooner said...

Happy Easter, Jungle Mama!!!


t i m said...

Now I want a Smurf or a Smurfette too, so do please share. Remember its better to give than receive. :)

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