Lagniappe, a word of French or Cajun origin, refers to that something extra that is unexpectedly received. The lagniappe establishes a closer relationship between the merchant and the customer. As the merchant, it shows that our intention is not only to serve, but to delight the customer during his or her interaction with our business.
The Baker’s Dozen: a Classic Example of lagniappe
A classic example in the United States is the baker’s dozen (literally baker’s dozen) or a pack of thirteen. In this case, when you buy a dozen rolls in a bakery, the baker ‘secretly’ sneaks an extra one in the bag or box.
Lagniappe may be the little gift that is left unsaid which leaves you pleasantly surprised when you get home. Or — and this is the better way of doing it — at the time the baker delivers the order, he or she adds with a lowered voice and a wink that there is ‘a little something extra’ in your order.
And lagniappe does not just apply to bakeries. It’s perfect for any product sold by individual units. You can be as creative or generous as you want, depending on your product, cost and profit margins.
The important thing is that lagniappe is not publicly promoted. Nor is it a strategy that is executed with much bravado. If so, it becomes just another element of your advertising efforts and does not give any competitive advantage at the point of sale. Instead, although the practice should be well thought out and established within your budget, you must convey to individual customers the feeling that your business is unique and special in the way that you care about and serve them. Lagniappe is a way to accelerate the conversion of a single buyer into a satisfied, repeat customer who recommends your business to family, friends and even strangers.
Strategies for lagniappe
This strategy can be applied in various ways. When a person buys a certain amount of a product, you can apply the lagniappe strategy by merely adding more of the same type. For example, if the customer buys a six-pack of canned juices, you could give them an extra one. Now, if you promote a new brand or a new flavor of juice, you could give one of these products as the ‘something extra’ in addition to the regular product. On the other hand, it may be that ‘something more’ is a completely different product or service that you wish to introduce more broadly. Returning to the example of the juices, if someone buys six juices, as a lagniappe you could give them a new package of gum or a piece of chocolate.
It’s very important for your business that the lagniappe is well established and well budgeted. That is, all staff must be thoroughly trained in the procedure. Everyone should know exactly what to give away in exchange for a particular purchase. There should also be strict control over the units to be given to the customers. Know how many units can be distributed throughout the month and what the cost is to stay within your budget.
Once you have all this set up, have fun with it! Rest assured, you’ll enjoy the expressions of disbelief, gratitude and excitement of your customers as you dance to the increasingly frequent sound of the cash register.