When Gap partnered with Facebook Places last week to reward customers with free jeans for check-ins, the promotion quickly caught the public's attention. (After all, who doesn't love free stuff?) According to reports, lines formed early in the morning, and the freebies were gone almost as soon as the doors opened. But does that make Gap's Facebook partnership a success?
There's no doubt the promotion drew customers to the stores. On Gap's Facebook page, more than 28,000 users signed up to attend—even though Gap was only offering 10,000 free jeans. And keep in mind this number is spread across Gap's many locations: a recent quarterly report put the tally of stores at 1,043, meaning each location could only offer around 9 to 10 pairs of jeans for free.
Customers certainly noticed the limited inventory. The Manhattan stores we contacted estimated they had given away up to 100 jeans; another report pegged the number at around 79; and another put the figure as low as 15. Anecdotal evidence suggests some disappointment with the promotion: There's nothing consumers hate more than losing the opportunity for freebies. Gap's Facebook page is dotted with negative comments. "What a bunch of BS! I was there 6 minutes after the store opened and they were 'out of giveaways,'" said one angry Facebooker. The "free jeans giveaway is messed up and I will never shop at Gap again," said another dramatic commenter. "My store had six pairs to give away."
Still, Gap's Facebook wall is loaded with a more important metric: check-ins. We're still waiting for an official tally from Gap, but there's no question the Facebook promotion brought in customers by the droves.
One Fast Company reader—among several who expressed anger at the program—pointed out what would seem to be an inconsistency with the Facebook Places check-in system and the reality at a store. "The one I went to had only 25 [pairs of jeans] (all of which were gone) even though the Places check-in page had 7 check-ins," the commenter wrote.
So what should Gap have done differently? The company gave away 10,000 pairs of jeans for free, and offered 40% off to any additional customers. Are the negative comments warranted, or just whining from customers upset they didn't get free clothing? Would the negativity have changed if Gap offered 20,000 pairs of jeans? 30,000? Should Gap have focused on stores only in high-density areas? Did a nationwide promotion stretch its free offerings too thin?
And should Gap have thrown the promotion on Friday? Many customers hurried to the stores early in the morning before work. After waiting in line only to be denied the free promotion, were shoppers satisfied by Gap's 40%-off promotion? Perhaps if the event was thrown on Saturday, customers would be more inclined to stay and shop in Gap, regardless of whether they checked in before the free jeans were gone.
What do you think?