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Free = Frenzy (Observation)

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Yesterday marked another “holiday” called National Lipstick Day. While some makeup companies offered online deals for minis or samples, MAC shared on social media the opportunity to get a free full-sized lipstick at one of their stores or a participating location that sold MAC cosmetics. What was the catch? According to Instagram and Facebook, there was no catch – no buy one get one or spend a certain threshold to get one. Simply show up and get your free lipstick while supplies last.

Curious, I woke up early and got in line at my local mall to score a free lipstick, as I like MAC’s consistency and colors for lipstick. (Not to mention they are one of the brands that doesn’t dry my lips out when I wear it.) Unsurprisingly, there was already a line that formed by the time I arrived around 9:06 AM (store opens at 10 AM). Many were starting to panic or bail by the time they saw the line but I came prepared with a book in tow to pass the time. In between reading passages of A Dance with Dragons, I checked social media to see what others were saying about this “amazing” giveaway.

Oddly, it seemed the giveaway was a little inconsistent worldwide: Australia was promised a selection of the brand’s top colors like Velvet Teddy and Ruby Woo. UK was told they needed to spend 50£ on MAC products in order to receive a free lipstick. Meanwhile some US fans had called ahead and shared online that their stores were only giving away the colors in MAC’s Colour Rocker collection, which are mostly neon or strong colors that could be limited in use or wear. In addition, many users took to Twitter to complain that they waited hours in line only to be told the free lipsticks were out, as there was only a select quantity available. Others expressed disappointment over receiving last pick of the shades remaining, such as the bright blue lipstick which many joked was Smurf blue.

Around 9:40 AM, a MAC representative came around the line to pass out tickets to mark everyone’s place in line. Rules were you needed to trade in your ticket to choose a lipstick. Simple yet effective – cut down the chances of any last minute stragglers trying to sneak into the line with their friends who came earlier. Once the store opened, I heard many of the girls leaving saying that they were among the last few who could actually choose their shade – they eventually moved to putting all of the colors in a basket, shuffling them around, and you’d have to pick one out blindly. Cue many pointing out that the offer stated you could choose your shade of lipstick. Well, you were still choosing a color but maybe not the one you wanted.

At the 2 hour mark, I made it to the front of the store and traded in my ticket. The girl ahead of me asked for something more neutral and the MAC clerk was kind enough to pull one for her. She passed me the same color before moving onto the girls behind me. All while she was holding the basket of lipsticks, the MAC clerk was giving people who didn’t get a ticket for the free lipsticks a sample of their Prep + Prime Lip Balm. Not too bad for those who got in the line too late to get a ticket – they at least got something.

From there, everyone who got a free lipstick needed to go to the register to scan out their lipstick for inventory purposes. Some color trading took place in the line – the girl ahead of me swapped for a brown lipstick when the original owner eyed the former’s taupe shade. Unfortunately some people like the girl behind me, got stuck with the colors they didn’t want like the medium blue lipstick.

While I was pleasantly surprised with my shade, I walked away from the experience with these thoughts about the giveaway. Free is a good way to draw in loyal and new customers to your brand. However, planning is necessary in order to execute the giveaway successfully with little disappointment. I feel that the brand could have selected their top sellers and thrown in a few quirkier colors for fun worldwide, instead of setting different rules for different countries. Some of the locations should have set aside more units for the giveaway – my location said they had 400 units to giveaway while others only had 30. The use of tickets to mark one’s place in line was smart as it prevented anyone from trying to cut the line. I understand they tried to expedite the line by doing a random drawing of your color but it would have be more efficient if they continued to allow people to pick their shade instead. This would reduce the amount of disappointed customers who ended up with a color they’ll never use or wear and prevent the chances of turning away potential or loyal customers who had a negative experience.

Did anyone else brave the lines for a shot at a free lipstick?

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Socialize? You Mean Post it to (Insert Social Media Site Name)

Remember when people had to either talk to each other to pass the time in lines, brought games, or read books? Did that used to happen? I was (and still am) a voracious reader – it was nearly impossible for my parents to get me to look up from reading an exciting part of a book. My dad had to guide me around Disney World or Hershey Park, often telling me to avoid walking into various things.

Nowadays, I see parents, kids, and even toddlers using tablets and smartphones to pass the time in lines. Part of me wants to cringe whenever I see toddlers and young children being pacified with these devices, especially if they were crying or throwing a fit. Just this past weekend, a young boy wanted to walk on the edge of a stone bench surrounding a plant landscape element in Downtown Disney. His father yelled at him to come back before bribing him with his smartphone. At the mention of the phone, the little boy ran back and happily took the phone from his dad, becoming engrossed in whatever app he loved.

I recently attended an event with select invited bloggers which encouraged these bloggers to socialize and meet other users, all while sharing the night’s festivities via social media for prizes. I noticed that most of the users seemed more engrossed in posting pictures, messages, and videos of the event versus socializing with one another. Even when people were socializing, mostly they interacted with their guests they brought. The few rare interactions between strangers resulted in compliments or comments about random things. Once those comments had been shared, the conversation lagged until people excused themselves politely to look around the event.

What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments!