01 Mar, 2013

Oh, Goodie, Goodie!

Oh, Goodie, Goodie!

It all started when Monica saw that Argus cyclists were not getting anything besides their race number when registering for the event, and she thought it would be a novel concept to give them a goodie bag filled with product samples. “It took me a year to get my ducks in a row, and once I got the go ahead, it was a fairly hard sell at first, because my clients had to give me product and still pay to go into the bag, but the aim was to place their samples directly in the hands of a targeted consumer, because we guaranteed a 100% certainty that each bag would go to a cyclist.”


Those first 25 000 goodie bag were packed at Monica’s home in Constantia, Cape Town, and she says it was a much bigger undertaking than she had anticipated. “I learnt a lot about logistics, spacing and timelines the hard way, but it was also a great success, because everybody loves a goodie bag, no doubt about that!” And that first bag soon led to more, with Monica asked to supply goodie bags for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Discovery Cape Times Big Walk, Momentum 94.7 Cycle Tour and a number of other premier cycling, running and walking events.


In recent years Monica has been joined in the business by her daughter, Kendall, who studied for a BA Business Admin degree specialising in marketing, and each year the two source products for 365 000 bags across 18 premier sporting events, the biggest being the Discovery 702 Walk the Talk in Johannesburg with 55 000 bags, as well as a few corporate events, including the prestigious Loerie Awards for the advertising industry. “To date we have sampled over R700 million of products over 18 years!” says Monica proudly.



Goodie bags are not always properly understood by athletes and organisers alike. “A goodie bag is a marketing exercise to attract new consumers, and for that reason, some people prefer to call it a sample bag,” explains Monica. “We guarantee our clients exclusivity, with just one product per category in a bag, such as only one deodorant or shampoo, or one chocolate, and we can advise them where to send their products, based on the demographics of the specific events. The bag is therefore not part of the entry fee of an event, and is not a gift to the athletes. But that said, it is a known fact an event is often judged on its goodie bag.”


After 18 years of sampling, Monica says she has worked out what athletes look for in a goodie bag. “They love eating something, especially chocolates or sweets. I call it the ‘Bar One Dive’ when they go looking for something to eat in their bags. Sachets of Vaseline, Arnica or sunscreen that they can carry in a pocket during the event are also popular, and they love post-event pampering products like bubble bath. People also love quick breakfast samples that they quickly grab the morning of the event.”


Post-event, Monica asks athletes to rate the goodie bag content through quick online surveys, with great incentive prizes to do so, which then gives her clients valuable feedback on their products. “We ask the athletes to tick what they liked or used from the bag, and we get on average a 12.5% response, which is much bigger than most sampling surveys ever get. Athletes often want to give feedback on bags.”



Monica says that it is very important to her that her business also gives back, and so she contracts in disability workshops to pack the bags, using Services for the Blind in Johannesburg, the Alta Du Toit Aftercare Institution for mentally challenged adults in Cape Town, and the Durban Coastal Mental Health Challenge Workshop in KZN. “Not only do the packers get paid for their work, but they benefit from the motor co-ordination skills work,” says Monica, adding that she also give an event’s official charity free inclusion in the bag.


“It then takes many truckloads to get the bags from the packing houses to the expo or registration point, and in Johannesburg we have Pickfords providing free transport as its contribution to the blind, which in turn allows me to keep the price for sampling down, so that I can give my clients great value for money, and the athletes a great goodie bag.”


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