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Discount Money

A kind of Easter egg hunt, and would you pay $5 for a genuine $10 bill?
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We all know that the purpose of advertising is to encourage customers to buy stuff. For the average retailer, this depends on first getting the customer to enter a physical store. It is known that once inside, an average customer tends to buy more items than whatever he or she originally came to the store to obtain. That's why some items can be steeply discounted, such that they are called "loss leaders". The store takes a loss on those items, but makes up for it by leading the customers to the opportunity to buy all the other stuff.

Well, most kinds of loss leaders don't appeal to all possible customers. But this one might. Discount Money! About the same size and shape as a dollar bill, but made of tough plastic, the store manager hides a number of these things (possibly to be called "tickets") in various places around the store. Some of the store's advertising budget is devoted to paying for this idea's implementation. No other advertising should be required, as explained below.

A customer wandering the aisles finds one of the Discount Money tickets. Curious, reading the printing on the ticket informs the finder of the 3 very simple Rules:
1. Take ticket to a cashier.
2. You are charged $X for the ticket, but the cashier claims it (so the store can re-use it)
3. Your total bill-of-sale is reduced by twice $X, but may not go below zero.

So, the customer can't use the full value of the ticket if not buying something that costs at least $X. The math is simple: $X for the item, plus $X for the ticket, minus twice $X because of the ticket's discount, equals Zero. Any item in the store costing about $X essentially becomes a possible "loss leader". But the Discount Money could be used to partly pay for more-expensive items, also, of course.

The ticket might also mention that others were hidden around the store, possibly still waiting to be found. Would the finder of this ticket like to tweet (or otherwise inform) friends about them?

Some folks will try to keep the discovery a secret, looking for more tickets, but people like to talk too much for such a thing to stay secret. Somebody will blab. Every business knows that word-of-mouth advertising is the most effective. So, not long afterward, hordes of people will come to the store searching for the Discount Money tickets. Most might buy something, even if they don't find one....

And every night, after the store closes, the manager hides the tickets in new places around the store. What is the store's advertising budget for the month? Divide it by [31 (or so days per month) times $X per ticket], to compute the maximum number of possible tickets to hide. That's if all the tickets have the same value of $X, of course. Figuring the maximum number of tickets becomes more complicated if several "denominations" of tickets are used.

The store might not ever need any other kind of advertising. And this is something that an on-line-only retailer might never be able to match. Long Live The Mom-And-Pop Store!

Vernon, Jul 15 2014

It's been done http://en.wikipedia.../Soapy_Smith#Career
Without even the cost of the loss leader. [MechE, Jul 15 2014]

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       Used to know a guy who would post a sign on his swap meet booth - "Five nickles for a dime"   

       Most would look, but buy something else or walk by. Sometimes his little joke would stay up for an hour or so.
popbottle, Jul 16 2014
  

       There is a Trader Joe near where I live that does something similar but with a plush puppy. Kids ransack the place looking for the puppy in exchange for a treat. Caregivers chase them and buy random stuff they encounter along the way.
bungston, Jul 16 2014
  
      
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