12 Most Amazing Examples of Marketing Lagniappe (You’ve Never Heard of)

12 Most Amazing Examples of Marketing Lagniappe (You’ve Never Heard of)

In November 2009 I embarked on a quest called the Purple Goldfish Project. The goal was to crowdsource 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe. A marketing lagniappe, (aka purple goldfish), is differentiation through signature added value. It’s anytime a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra’. It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure. It effectively differentiates the produce or service, reduces attrition and drive positive word of mouth.

Fast forward 18 months and we’re almost 85% of the way towards reaching the goal of 1,001 examples. There are some solid examples from large well known brands like DoubleTree Hotels (chocolate chip cookie), Disney (fast pass, extra park hours, reduced waiting), Southwest Airlines (Bags Fly Free, No Change Fees), Zappos (returns, free shipping both ways and upgrades), Five Guys (free peanuts and extra bonus fries) and Lexus (fill up gast tank or car wash and vacuum with service). But for every well known brand there were examples of small to medium businesses that employed signature extras to exceed expectations and stand out in a ‘sea of sameness’. Here are 12 of those most amazing examples:

1. AJ Bombers

AJ Bombers (#152 Milwaukee) – Free peanuts with a unique delivery mechanism. Joe Sorge @ajbombers created P-nut bombers, small bombs that run on rails attached to the ceiling. Served from the bar, once the bomber reaches your booth and hits the bullseye, the bay doors opens and releases the payload of peanuts. [credit:Phil Gerbyshak @philgerb for submitting]

2. Izzy’s

Izzy’s (#582 St. Paul) – Sampling with a twist. Rated by Readers Digest as the ‘Best Ice Cream Shop in America’, proprietors Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel of Izzy’s took a different tack when it came to sampling. Instead of offering free tastes to prospective customers, they created the IZZY scoop. Each customer gets a complimentary small scoop with every scoop they buy. Sweet genius that’s hard to top. [credit: Katie Morrow of Aveus for submitting]

3. Toy Boat

Toy Boat (#144 San Francisco) – Order a pint of ice cream to go at Toy Boat and you’ll receive a couple of complimentary cones. Now you can enjoy a cone in the comfort of your home. A little thoughtful extra. [credit: Molly Holtman for submitting]

4. Taranta

Taranta (#808 Boston) Taranta uses squid ink to place QR codes on plates using fresh locally sourced seafood. Diners can scan the code to visit ‘Trace and Trust’. It allows you to track where and when the fish was caught. A very tasty example [credit: Andrew Sweet for submitting]

5. Arigato Sushi

Arigato Sushi (#355 Roseville, CA) Added value pricing. Arigato offers half-priced sushi…all the time. Started as a promotion when the place opened, but business was so successful they never got rid of it. Even though it’s permanent it still makes you feel like your getting a great value every time you go in. Because the menu still has the full-prices, you don’t really see the savings until you get the bill. [credit: Owen Clark for submitting]

6. Potbelly

Potbelly (#479 Chicago) gives you a small cookie on a straw. An interesting and unique extra that’s baked in [credit: William Mericle of Euro RSCG for submitting]

7. Umpqua Bank

Umpqua Bank (#295 Portland) Bank tellers place customers’ cash on black wooden trays along with a silver chocolate coin embellished with the bank’s logo. Add in gourmet coffee and free wifi for a one of a kind retail banking experience. [credit: taken from Joseph Jaffe’s book, ‘Flip the Funnel’].

8. Zane’s Cycles

Zane’s Cycles (#460 Connecticut) Free tune ups and lifetime warranty. Every bicycle purchased from Zane’s Cycles comes with an exclusive ‘Zane’s Cycles Lifetime Free Service and Lifetime Parts Warranty.’ Anytime your bicycle needs service, a full tune-up or just a quick adjustment, Zane’s makes those necessary adjustments for free as long as you own your bicycle. [credit: taken from a speech by Jeanne Bliss at Net Promoter Conference]

9. Besito

Besito (#238 Long Island) Finishing touches. Besito provides gives churros gratis to every table for dessert. The warm, long spirals of fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar are delivered in a white paper bag. Along with them we were given tiny Mexican “worry dolls” to be put under our pillows to take away worries. [credit: Lilliam Villafane De Giacomo for submitting]

10. Peter Millar

Peter Millar (#446 Raleigh) When boxes of golf shirts and shorts and other high-end menswear are shipped from the Peter Millar office and warehouse, the packing list includes mints. When customers unpack their orders, they are struck by three things: The quality of what they’ve ordered; each item comes out of the box in the order it’s listed on the packing sheet; and, mints are included for the pleasure of it. [credit: Joe Bob Hester of UNC]

11. Porter Airlines

Porter Airlines (#300 Toronto) With most airlines, you expect to sit in the typical terminal with old rows of seats. At Porter’s hub, they offer a VIP lounge for everyone. The terminal area is set up similar to that of any VIP lounge: a kitchen stocked filled with FREE soda and water, two cappuccino machines, and free snacks (Cookies & chips). Porter also offers FREE Wi-Fi with a power port under every seat as well as 14 computers for those without a laptop [credit: Brian Millman for submitting]

12. Wufoo

Wufoo (#770 Online) A fun twist on an old stand-by. Wufoo is an online form generator. They thank customers by sending handwritten notes taken to the next level with stickers and good old fashioned construction paper. [credit: Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee and his book, ‘The Thank You Economy’]

What are your thoughts on marketing lagniappe? Any examples to share?

Stan Phelps


Stan Phelps is Chief Solutions Officer at Synergy Events. Synergy is an award winning experiential marketing agency specializing in the creation of signature brand experiences. He believes the longest and hardest nine inches in marketing is the journey from the brain to the heart of your customer. He blogs at Marketing Lagniappe and is currently writing his first book, 'What's Your Purple Goldfish?'.

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