How have sales promotions changed?


Lauren Miles, Senior Account and Marketing Executive at Mando shares how sales promotions have changed over time. 

The Promotions Industry has changed significantly over the last 40 years. In the 1970s and 80s, ways to enter were limited. Now there are a plethora of ways to enter. Some promotions encourage consumers to enter multiple times via different channels to increase their chance of winning.

How it’s changed

The obvious answer is technology. But how has this impacted on our sales promotions? In a number of ways to be exact.

  • Ways to Enter
  • Spreading the word
  • Easier than ever
  • Comping groups

We take a look at each of these in turn.

Ways of entering

Before technology really took off (I’m talking before the internet here), there were very few ways to enter a promotion. One was to mail in personal information, or post tokens that had been collected. Another way was to phone a hotline number. These were extremely limiting in the ways that customers could engage with a brand. Fast forward 40 years and you can still post, and phone but you can also text, Snapchat, tweet, enter via Instagram, or Facebook and most commonly, online via a microsite.

UK Stamps

Spreading the word

Social media has increased the speed at which people can find out about news, events and competitions at an alarming rate. Take fake news for example. Some people will believe anything they read online and share with their connections at a click of a button. This is the same for promotions. If a brand runs a promotion, there is a very strong chance it could go viral and thousands of people can find out from the comfort of their own home. No need to go to shops anymore and hunt for those pesky on pack promotions. This means our data scientists have to be incredibly accurate when predicting redemption rates as a promotion could go viral and redeem 10 x higher than anticipated.

Easier than ever

Mobile phones and the internet have made it almost effortless to enter promotions. Customers can access a microsite within seconds of the product being purchased. Customers no longer have to wait to get home, and then phone a hotline or spend time writing their personal details, finding a stamp, visiting a post box and posting the letter, only to wait 4 weeks to find out if they have won. If customers are entering online, often these will be an instant win promotion and as the name suggests, customers can find out instantly if they have won. Discover how we helped Coca-Cola with their instant win promotion here.

Teenager friends watching videos on smartphones - Millennials generation addiction to new technology trends - Concept of youth, commute, tech, social and friendship - Main focus on center hands

Comping Groups

The rise of “Compers” or so-called competition experts (we recently wrote an article on this, which you can read here) has increased rapidly. These experts share competitions that they find with each other through social media groups, to access as many competitions as possible. The groups tend to be aware of the legislation surrounding promotions and don’t hesitate to complain to the ASA if they feel that a competition isn’t being run fairly. The ASA received 33,727 complaints in 2018, and 98% of these were from the public according to Karen Fraser at June’s IPM Connect Event.

Hoover Free Flights

History of Sales PromotionsThe sales promotion that everyone always refers to is “Hoover Free Flights” which we have touched on in our promotional horror stories article. However, imagine if this happened now? With social media, the offer would have gone viral within a matter of hours and Hoover would have to pull the offer or go into administration immediately if they decided to honour it. They wouldn’t be able to afford all of the flights that were claimed. Any risk management company would have advised Hoover that the offer vastly outweighed the price of the product leaving them open to a mountain of risk the size of Everest. In hindsight it’s easy to say that Hoover should have consulted a risk management company. If the promotion ran today it would have been an even bigger disaster than in the 1990s. Seeking advice from a sales promotion professional could have guided them into altering the offer to something more viable and benefiting to Hoover, reducing the risk considerably.

If you would like to know more about how Mando can help you get in touch with their team here 01296 717900 or email at