Stikeez: Pollutants, gimmicks or worthy collectibles?

By Staff Writer
By Angelique Ruzicka, editor, Justmoney

Moody, Puff-Puff, Gloo-Gloo and Dolfy are not a new clan of characters joining the Teletubbies. They are the Stikeez (pictured) – the latest craze in the form of small collectible figurines that you can stick on to most flat surfaces- to hit a Pick n Pay store near you. They’ve been available in stores since the 3 August and are now being collected by adults and children alike. 

The ‘cost’ of Stikeez
Stikeez technically don’t cost you anything because you get a free one for every R150 spend at Pick n Pay. So if you spend R300, you get two. But the problem is that there are 24 to collect in four themes: Monster, Ocean, Farm and Jungle and as they come in packets that are not transparent, you never know what it is you’re getting. 

So if you, or your children, fall for the craze of collecting them you are indirectly encouraged to shop at Pick n Pay and to spend as much as possible so you can collect them all. Just say you want to get 24 at Pick n Pay right now – that means you’d have to spend R3,600 (24 x R150). This is a lot of money considering that this won’t guarantee you getting all 24 individual figurines that you need to collect as the teller pulls them out of a box at random. 

When you compare other free toy offerings with Pick n Pay’s Stikeez promotion the whole thing still comes across as rip off considering you pay less than R30 for a McDonalds Happy Meal or Steers Brat Pack, which usually come with toys for kids. 

Plus not all transactions you conduct at Pick n Pay will guarantee that you get a toy. According to Pick n Pay’s website, categories that are excluded include fuel, PnP gift cards and top ups, money transfers, prescription pharmaceutical goods purchases, as well as third party services and payments (e.g. buying electricity or getting a pension payment).  

So if your three year old (Stikeez are recommended toys for kids aged three and up) wants the entire collection it means a lot of desperate shopping at Pick n Pay needs to be conducted before the promotion expires on the 20 September 2015. 

If you don’t want to splash the cash, the alternative is to swap them with your friends to get the particular Stikeez that you need for your ‘empire’. When I searched for the toys online I found that one person had already gone to the extreme of advertising on Gumtree that she was willing to swap them. 
And if you want to take it even more seriously, the collector’s bag will set you back R10.99 and the collector’s album (including game) will cost you R29.99. Thankfully, you can download the game for free. 

Stikeez mania
When I asked for opinions on Facebook, the Stikeez were given a mixed review. They were described as anything from ‘pollutants’ to ‘gimmicks’, while others admitted to ‘collecting them like crazy’ and that their children loved them. 

Is it a gimmick? A gimmick is defined as ‘a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade.’ And attract attention it certainly has. Social media site Twitter is ablaze with people talking about collecting them, taking photographs of them in random places and there’s even some complaints. One shopper lamented how he got an empty Stikeez packet from Pick n Pay saying: “I spent R150 for air”. 

Like them or not, they have forced parents to reconsider their monthly grocery shop at Woollies or Checkers just so they don’t come home empty handed to see disappointed kids’ faces, as one mom discovered. 

It’s a shame that the store doesn’t allow you to purchase the Stikeez particularly if you have one missing from your collection. But that’s the point of it all. Pick n Pay want you to come back. Pick n Pay don’t want you to shop anywhere else. Pick n Pay want YOUR money and they’re willing to throw in some plastic figurines for the pleasure too. 

It’s not the first time it’s come up with an ingenious way of retaining its customers. Smart Shopper points do after all come in handy when they are redeemed and there’s always the retailer’s Brand Match concept which gives you a discount coupon if it finds you could’ve saved money shopping elsewhere. But even with Brand Match there’s a catch – only 2000 products are compared and the vouchers do expire if you don’t make use of them. 

And what will competitors Shoprite and Woolworths do in retaliation – if anything? At the moment competitors appear to be silent. That’s not to say that you can’t get discounts elsewhere. Woolworths still has its WRewards and MySchool programme which gives shoppers 10% off some products while Shoprite has Eezicoupons which it launched back in 2012 and provides customers with discount coupons downloadable onto their phones to redeem at the tills. 

Stikeez have no doubt created much hype, but only time will tell if all of Pick n Pay’s collective strategies will pay off in the form of customer retention and profits and force competitors to adopt similar gimmicks.  

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