When running a retail business, coming up with boutique giveaway ideas can be easily overlooked.
Boutique giveaways are a promotional tactic used to acquire new customers and engage with existing ones, all while building brand awareness and growing your business.
The benefits extend beyond the event’s buzz. Boutique giveaways are great for capturing consumer data, such as email addresses and demographic information, and can serve as the groundwork for building relationships with your customer base.
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Why are boutique giveaways important?
Boutique giveaways are a fun, engaging, and cost-effective way to interact with your potential and existing customers. And because you set the rules, you can spend as much or as little as you want on the prize itself and the marketing efforts behind your boutique giveaway. Results vary, but when done right, they can reap serious rewards—and there are various data to prove it:
- On average, 34% of new customers are acquired through contest efforts
- 94.6% of people share the contest after entering, improving brand awareness and advocacy
- An Instagram contest or giveaway can help you grow your followers 70% faster in three months
- Instagram contests get 3.5 times as many likes and 64 times more comments on average than regular posts
Boutique giveaways will only sometimes lead to immediate sales, but you will likely always increase leads and get more potential customers into your sales funnel.
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14 boutique giveaway ideas to boost engagement and sales
Get your creative juices flowing with these boutique giveaway ideas:
1. Capitalize on events, holidays, and seasons
Clothing retailer Land’s End ran a #SantaForADay contest during the holidays. The retailer tweeted out questions for their followers to answer to win a Land’s End gift card. It partnered with influencers, primarily parents, and asked questions that evoked emotion and touched on how important the holidays are to families.
— LandsEnd (@LandsEnd) December 18, 2016
But it didn’t stop there. Land’s End also hosted a sweepstakes through which participants could play a game for a chance to win gift cards.
— LandsEnd (@LandsEnd) December 16, 2016
T-Mobile also joined the holiday spirit with its 12 Days of Magenta contest. Each day, for 12 days, T-Mobile gave away a product, such as headphones, smartphones, and wireless speakers. Prompts were less personal and more product-based, mostly asking customers how they would use the consequences if they were to win the contest.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) December 19, 2016
Interestingly, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, an influencer in his own right, took to his Twitter account to promote the contest.
The key takeaway from these examples is to join in on conversations already happening and put a spin on them that makes sense for your brand. Land’s End made emotional connections with the purchasing decision-makers in its target market, and T-Mobile reminded consumers that it doesn’t sell only phones but technology.
2. Social media contests
If your brand has a social media presence or wants to establish one, a contest or boutique giveaway is a great way to gain visibility. You can execute a social media contest in several ways, but you essentially want to award “entries” to users in exchange for engaging with your profiles. This engagement can be in the form of likes, shares, follows, posts, comments, mentions—virtually any type of social interaction with your brand.
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Explore your options to see what might work for you. But make sure your content is visually engaging—whether it’s imagery provided by you or user-generated content created by contest entrants (or both).
While running a social contest may seem overwhelming, many tools and plug-ins are available to make setting up boutique giveaways a snap. Whether you’re aiming to boost your followers, page likes, or engagement, here are some tools to help you get there:
Each social media channel also has specific guidelines you must follow to host a contest or giveaway on its site. Review each platform’s terms of service before establishing any promotion. Read up on the guidelines below:
- Facebook page terms
- Guidelines for promotions on Twitter
- Pinterest community guidelines
- Instagram promotion guidelines
3. Logo or print design
You may not want to run a logo design contest for your primary logo that appears on all your product tags, website, social media, and anywhere else you’d use. But if you’re launching a limited edition item, like a graphic t-shirt that you’ll only sell for one to two months, you could run a design contest for a unique logo and the graphic you’ll print on the front of the t-shirt.
You could set a due date for the designs, choose your top five, and then run a poll on social media to see which one your potential and existing customers like the most. If you include them in the decision, they’ll be more likely to purchase the t-shirt once it’s available.
This type of boutique giveaway is win-win: You get a logo or graphic design for a minimal cost, and the winner enjoys a bit of “fame” when they see their design on your products.
4. Product naming
Along the same vein of looking to your customers to help you design a new logo or graphic t-shirt, you can also run a contest asking customers to help you name a new product.
If you’re launching a new product or variation of an existing product, host a contest to name it. Share the game via your newsletter, social media, and word of mouth. Award the winner of your choosing or use a voting mechanism to determine the winning name.
5. In-store contests
Have you ever gone to trivia at a local bar? In essence, this is a contest. You can offer gift cards to your store to the winners of competitions you can host in your physical space.
You don’t have to limit your options to trivia. Consider hosting a spelling bee, gingerbread-house-making competition, costume contest, scavenger hunt, or karaoke competition.
6. Contest and giveaway partnerships
Partnering with other businesses is a strategic way to reach new audiences. You can find a partner that makes sense for your brand and look for ways to work together.
One example is when Pig of the Month BBQ partnered up with Instructables in an online contest to give away a year’s supply of bacon. Entrants were encouraged to create a unique bacon recipe and upload the instructions to the Instructables site. The brand received dozens of fantastic entries:
Partners don’t have to be other brands—you can also look to influencers. They can host a giveaway on their blog featuring your products and links back to your site and promote via their social media channels.
7. Charitable contests
Could you challenge your customers or employees to donate with a fundraising contest? Perhaps you’ll match the amount raised by the entrant who submits the most funds and reward them with a prize pack reflective of your brand and products.
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The McDonald's Monopoly challenge is one of the most well-known examples of a gamified contest. Essentially, customers collect game pieces when they make qualified purchases. Some parts have instant prizes (like free food and beverages from McDonald’s), while others require a collection of essays to add to more valuable tips.
Looking at this example can teach you a few things. First, the way to enter this contest is through making purchases. This boosts sales and incentivizes investments. Second, McDonald’s has created a conversation. It has hosted this contest regularly for so long that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of it. And finally, McDonald’s has made it both fun and easy. If a contest is brutal to enter or requires too many steps, you’ll experience disinterest and drop-off.
You don’t have to create a Monopoly game to hold this contest. Get creative!
You can also gamify contests for your employees and use platforms to make sales contests more engaging.
9. Contest and giveaway for the kids
If you have kid-friendly products, encourage them to engage with your brand through fun activities like coloring.
Or tailor your idea to something that makes sense for your brand. If you sell electronic products, encourage submissions for a virtual drawing or an edited video. Ask for recommendations of short stories about your brand’s mascot. The possibilities are endless, so be creative.
10. Sales contests for your staff
Many retailers reward store staff who hit sales targets or generate the most revenue for a certain period.
Set weekly or monthly sales goals at your retail store and reward staff with extra days off, a gift card, or something they choose. You can also offer a list of potential prizes that the winning employee(s) can choose.
📚 Further reading: The Future of Retail Staff: How Is the Role of the Retail Worker Changing?
11. Wellness competitions
Let’s say you sell a cookbook with 30-minute healthy recipes. You could run a contest encouraging people to cook one recipe per day for a week and to enter; they have to post a photo of each meal beautifully plated on Instagram and tag your brand profile.
At the end of the week, you can review the entries and choose a giveaway winner based on posting consistency and plating skills. Could you announce the winner on social media and award them a gift card?
This strategy not only boosts existing customer engagement but also builds brand awareness. Think about all the posts and tags you could get in one week.
12. Share your story
Offer prompts encouraging entrants to share their stories. How would winning this contest change their life? What would they do with the prize? Narrow down the top entrants and then ask users to vote on who has the most convincing story.
For example, if you have a flower shop and sell wedding bouquets and table arrangements, you could run a contest asking couples to share their unique love story and have entrants vote on who wins $1,000 to put toward their wedding flowers.
13. Ask for nominees
Letting contest entrants nominate individuals they think deserve to win your boutique giveaway can help you spread the word faster.
For example, if you have a beauty store, run a contest asking customers to post a selfie on Instagram wearing their favorite lipstick shade to win a $100 gift card. If you tag two friends in your post, you could incentivize entrants to nominate friends who might be likely to enter the contest by adding a bonus prize (an extra $25).
14. Photo contest
National Geographic runs the most coveted photography contest out there. It encourages readers to try their hand at taking stunning nature photos of their own for a chance to win a NatGeo-style expedition or other prizes. Inevitably, the magazine receives hundreds of breathtaking entries each year:
Luckily, photography for your contest doesn’t need to be of majestic landscapes or exotic wildlife. Challenge your customers or employees to a fun photography contest.
Photos can highlight your brand or product or act as a representation of the entrant. This presents a massive potential for retailers to capture user-generated content (UGC) so your contest can live on after the winner is announced.
You don’t need to limit your contest ideas to photo submissions. Post a photo of your choice and challenge people to submit captions; the best wins.
Alexandra Sheehan originally wrote this post, and Alexis Damen has updated it.
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Boutique giveaway ideas FAQ
What are good boutique giveaway ideas?
Some fun giveaway ideas include photo contests, hashtag contests, asking customers to share your post, or having customers tag friends in your post as an entry.
What are some excellent boutique giveaway prizes?
When hosting a giveaway, you always want your giveaway prize to be something that will appeal only to your target audience. For example, a gift card to your store or a free product is a grand giveaway prize. Something like an iPad that will appeal to the masses and not just your target audience isn’t the type of giveaway prize you’ll want to offer, as it will bring in too many people to your giveaway that won’t turn into customers.
How do small businesses promote giveaways?
Social media is the perfect place to promote your boutique giveaway to a broad audience.
How do you create a boutique giveaway?
You can start by choosing your objective (i.e., more foot traffic, social media followers, online engagement) and then your giveaway format. You can host the giveaway right on social media or utilize a giveaway tool. You can then use software that will help you randomly select the winner. Some giveaways are more in-depth than others, but hosting a giveaway is a straightforward strategy for increasing reach.