There are many ways that savvy consumers can get free merchandise, including through mail-in rebates, incentive shopping, free after rebate items, and knowing how to save wrappers for stuff.
How to Save Wrappers for Stuff
Wrapper and label offers vary by company, but in general consumers can clip the required part of the wrapper, collect enough to qualify for the incentive, mail in their clippings with the appropriate order form and any required processing or shipping fees, and 6-to-8 weeks later the merchandise will arrive. Other tricks to successful wrapper incentives include:
- Know how to properly package labels. Some companies require labels bundled into certain quantities, while others require certain types of envelopes to avoid folding or creasing the wrappers.
- Pay careful attention to dates. Incentive offers frequently expire, and if you haven't been able to save wrappers for stuff you won't be able to redeem the labels you do have.
- Watch for changing offers. Companies often change merchandise to continue encouraging consumer participation in the incentive offer. Even if you don't like the free items available today, you may enjoy items available tomorrow.
- Watch for regional programs. These merchants may offer incentive bargains for collected wrappers that are far more valuable than national programs, and because the items are local, you are supporting your immediate economy as well as gaining discount items.
- Be aware of limitations. Some programs limit the number of redemptions per household or per order, and may require additional shipping charges for multiple orders. Similarly, be sure to send only qualifying labels. Many companies offer dozens or hundreds of different products, but only a certain type of label may be eligible for free offers.
A few companies offer limited-time wrapper incentive programs, often related to a holiday, company anniversary, or release of a new product. Some companies, however, are well known for their ongoing wrapper collection programs, including Spangler Candy, which offers Dum Dum pops merchandise for 20 wrappers. Free items include frisbees, keychains, binoculars, and clothing. In addition, Hershey's also runs a wrapper rewards program that changes themes every few months. Past rewards programs included sending candy bar wrappers into the company in exchange for free Hershey's vintage t-shirts and Reese's Racing Team/NASCAR merchandise. To see what free stuff you can get by sending in Hershey's wrapper visit the company's website. As of July 2011, the company had yet to post its next wrapper promotion.
Which Wrappers to Save
Different companies require different parts of wrappers to be saved to qualify for free or discount offers. Simply clipping a label wrong can disqualify an offer, and consumers should understand how to properly collect the wrappers.
- UPC Codes: This is the barcode of the item that is scanned when it is purchased. If an offer requires the UPC codes only, it is safe to clip away the excess label bulk to save on space and make the label neater.
- Proof of Purchase: This may be the UPC code or it may be a special tag, tab, or section of the wrapper that is clearly labeled "proof of purchase." When in doubt, include the UPC code as well - the proof of purchase is usually near the barcode.
- Entire Label: If a save wrappers for stuff program requires the entire label, be sure to comply with that condition and do not remove any part of the label with printing (small tears or other incidental damage is usually acceptable).
- Caps: Drink companies - milk, soda, etc. - may require bottle caps instead of labels. Enclose the entire cap.
When you package wrappers for shipping, be sure to keep them neatly arranged and organized however the terms of the offer state. Wrappers should be as clean as possible (within reason), and neatly trimmed where applicable. Ship wrappers flat if possible - the fewer creases there are, the less likely that any wrappers will be disqualified for being illegible.
Scoring Free Stuff
How worthwhile is it to save wrappers for stuff? While some programs are more valuable than others, most offer unique items not available through traditional retail, making them more collectible and desirable. Typical items available through wrapper incentive programs include:
- t-shirts, hats, visors, sunglasses, and other clothing.
- Small toys or stuffed animals.
- Totes, bags, and other useful items.
- Rebates or discount certificates.
- Combination certificates for free items when other qualifying items are purchased.
Naturally, offers change and the precise items available vary by company.
Save Wrappers for Charity
Another option consumers have to save wrappers is for charity. Several companies offer financial motives to help get consumers involved in worthy causes, such as:
- Campbell's Labels for Education: This program collects the UPC labels from Cambell's soup to donate to participating schools.
- General Mills Box Tops for Education: Another school-based program, this one is run by General Mills and their hundreds of participating products.
- Yoplait Yogurt's Friends in the Fight Program: This charitable collection donates 10 cents per qualifying lid from Yoplait products to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Why Companies Offer Wrapper incentives
In the end, why do companies encourage consumers to save wrappers for stuff? By offering incentives based on quantity purchases, they not only increase their sales, but they build brand loyalty as consumers get to know and enjoy their products. Wrapper programs are also useful when introducing new products because they get consumers to try new things.
Whether you're collecting wrappers to get a unique t-shirt, to qualify for a rebate, or just to donate to a school or charity, it's a clever way to save money, an idea from which many consumers can benefit.