Did Gap's Free Jeans Facebook Deal Disappoint Customers?

The Influence Project

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?

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  • jbrons

    This doesn't even address the point of the promotion in the first place: Does anyone really care about Facebook Places? Do promotions like this do anything to encourage Facebook Places usage beyond the first obligatory check-in to get free stuff?

    Two months after its debut, our locations (movie theatres in Michigan) were checked into on Foursquare 8x as much as Facebook Places. And the sum total of check-ins still only represented 0.2% of total foot traffic. Facebook Places is not nearly the Next Big Thing no matter how much media attention it receives.

    That said, people who use Foursquare and Facebook Places are very valuable. They're voluntarily sharing data-rich URLs across social networks and it's a great way for business owners to encourage a new form of word-of-mouth as well as follow up and find out about their experience. But for larger businesses, 0.2% adoption rates of Facebook Places & Foursquare mean that, in the grand scheme of things, nobody uses them or knows what they are.

  • Steve Tuck

    Have enough giveaways for a very large number of customers, especially if you are going to promote it as heavily as Gap did. What were they expecting, only four or five people to participate? Another option is to not promote the specific item being given away. Offer freebies as part of the check-in program but maybe start with something small like a keychain. As the hype dies down, increase the item's quality so that loyal customers who are there shopping and take the time to check-in are the recipient of the good prize. Just some thoughts. You are not going to please everybody, especially now that everyone has a Facebook page and a smart phone.

  • Tricia Severson

    They got our attention right? Mission accomplished.
    The fact is 10,000 seems like a lot initially, hell i even pondered slipping out of work and grabbing a pair at the Albertville outlet, (later found out outlets didn't count either). But 10,000 for entire US or even world is like saying your going to feed entire target field audience with one happy meal to share, too bad GAP didn't think to make it more of a contest for different states or even main cities to compete. Does NYC wear more GAP jeans than MSP or Austin? The results of the promo would also lead to more publicity and buzz after.