I was part of a conversation yesterday about Box Tops for Education.  For the uninitiated, these are little icons on selected General Mills products that people cut out and save for schools, which in turn can redeem them for 10 cents each.  The value adds up quickly, especially with (theoretically) a whole school saving them.  Over 80,000 elementary and middle schools participate.

I recently began collecting these for my niece and nephew’s school, and I was struck by the inconsistency in them.  Some are on paper, others cardboard.  In my limited sampling of what is in my house right now, I found at least six different sizes of box tops.  What a nightmare to collate and redeem these things, never mind that you have to carefully cut out the minuscule icons on the line.

The current system seems to be more archaic than even the 1950’s iconic S&H Green Stamps which were of uniform size and came pre-cut. It makes me believe that General Mills wants you to buy the products because of the Box Tops, but not really to redeem them. If the company really wanted to facilitate a process, couldn’t they put bar codes on the inside of packages instead and create an app to scan them with instantaneous credit to the school?

There are many other loyalty programs that are more arduous than Box Tops (Pampers and Coca Cola with their multi-digit codes that need to be entered into the computer come to mind), but there are others that are much more seamless too (Target’s automatic donations to schools or Walgreens rewards at the registers.)  If your organization has a loyalty program, take a moment to evaluate it to see whether it is engendering loyalty or just aggravation.

— beth triplett

Box Tops 4 Education

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