Executive Briefing

It’s time to stop these stupid e-commerce tricks

Growth-hack-y tactics are eating away at your brand. And if you’re playing the long game, that’s a real problem.

1997 Columbia House CD offer advertisement
Back in the day / Columbia House

“FREE GLUTEN-FREE PASTA,” said the Instagram ad, from a direct-to-consumer brand I hadn’t seen before. “Try our twist pasta 3-pack, on us.”

Sure, why not? Being gluten-intolerant — and always on the hunt for new products — I clicked the ad and submitted my email address on a landing page, tapping a button that simply said “Get my free pasta.”

It seemed like a generous offer, but sampling new food and beverage products is still tricky these days. (Some brands moved their in-store sampling budget over to online advertising during the pandemic.) And because the offer claimed to be limited to 1,000 orders, I thought for a moment that it might just be a subsidized way to quickly get a new pantry staple into would-be customers’ homes.


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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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