Many coupon shoppers shop on price, not on brand loyalty. But there’s one product to which many women are fiercely brand-loyal – haircolor.
Like many women, I color my hair. I started going gray at the ripe old age of 21. At first, it was a silver streak in front that was kind of cool-looking. When more silver strands started peeking through elsewhere though, it was time to do something about it.
I was terrified of dyeing my hair though. Unlike many people, I’d never changed my haircolor at all. I was afraid of not being happy with the results,so I kept putting it off. But one day in 1996, I bought a bottle of Clairol Natural Instincts. I liked that it had natural ingredients and was not permanent. (I figured that if I somehow messed it up, eventually it would wash out.)
Well, I didn’t mess it up. On the contrary, I was thrilled with my soft, shiny, newly-all-brown hair. And so began a relationship that lasted 15 years.
After becoming an avid coupon shopper and learning that better prices can often be found by buying a competing brand, there was still one product I remained loyal to – Natural Instincts. (I always used coupons to buy it, of course!) And while I rotated between my favorite colors, I always bought Natural Instincts. They had never let me down, and so there was no reason to change.
Fast-forward fourteen years.
In November 2010, Garnier offered a coupon via their website for a free box of Garnier Herbashine Haircolor. As a couponer, I immediately clicked and requested my coupon, which arrived in the mail a short while later.
I didn’t redeem it right away. I waited until the coupon was close to expiring, bought a box which looked close to my current color, and stuck the box on my pantry shelf behind my stash of Natural Instincts boxes. That Herbashine was my “just in case I run out” backup haircolor.
Because, honestly… I was afraid to try anything new. I was a Natural Instincts girl.
Then, this Spring, Clairol overhauled their entire line of Natural Instincts. They got rid of all of the colors I’d previously been using. Worse, some Natural Instincts shades were now permanent, while others were non-permanent. I picked a non-permanent color that looked similar to my previous one and bought three boxes. But as soon as I tried it, I was disappointed. The new haircolor was supposed to take less time to apply than the previous formula, but the color turned out flat, dull, and a lot less golden-brown than my old color. Each box now came with an extra color packet to be rinsed in two weeks after the first dye. It was such a horrifying shade of orange when I opened it that I immediately threw it out. Natural Instincts had also changed their in-box conditioner to a new formula, which was terrible too – the old conditioner was fantastic and left my hair smooth and shiny. (That conditioner was half the reason I fell in love with Natural Instincts in the first place!) But the new conditioner felt cheap and thin. It did not condition my hair well at all.
Some people are very resistant to change, and I’m one of them. This new Natural Instincts was definitely not for me.
The next day, I returned the remaining two boxes, then ran around town buying up all of the “old” Natural Instincts that I could find in my favorite colors. Many stores had already gotten rid of their older stock, so this was a challenge. The boxes I found lasted me about six months.
And then… I had a dilemma.
I didn’t want to go with a permanent haircolor, but the “new” Natural Instincts was such a disappointment. (And I’m not the only one who feels this way – check out the myriad of negative reviews on their site under the pink “Read All Reviews” link… reading many stories about the extra color packet staining people’s skin and scalps bright orange made me glad I threw it away before trying it. There are pages of negative reviews of the “new” Natural Instincts at this link, and this link, and this link too. What a mess.)
And yet, there was that box of Garnier Herbashine that had been patiently waiting for eleven months in my pantry.
I opened it. Hesitantly, I used it. And do you know what? My hair came out soft, shiny, and golden brown. The Herbashine came with a gloriously thick conditioner that was almost like a hair mask. And like my old Natural Instincts, it’s also a temporary color that washes out after a while, which is what I’m comfortable using.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Guess which haircolor I’m going to be buying from now on?
All because Garnier was kind enough to offer a coupon for a free box on their website.
Sometimes I receive email from readers asking what benefit there is to a company to issue a free product. In my case, that coupon was the first step in me becoming loyal to a new product that I would not have tried without it. And certainly, had Natural Instincts not overhauled their product for the worse, I wouldn’t have been compelled to find something else.
But the fact remains – a single free coupon has the potential to represent years of future loyalty.
Note: With FCC guidelines for bloggers being what they are, I would like to disclose that I was not asked or required to write about either Natural Instincts or Herbashine, and I have received no compensation for this post. It’s simply a real-life observation from my own experiences.