The way the cookie crumbles

Amanda Chung/Staff
Amanda Chung/Staff
Amanda Chung/Staff

Few things in this world are as sweet as a free Pacific Cookie Company treat. Whether you’re a down-to-earth, oatmeal raisin type or a quirky chocolate cranberry fella, everyone can appreciate the free (emphasis on free) gooey goodness. Between CalSO, Caltopia and Word of the Day giveaways, it’s not hard to score one of these tasty confections without opening your wallet. But how can a business hand out so much of their merchandise pro bono? Are they a philanthropic organization looking to benefit the Berkeley community, one dreary-eyed and cookie-starved student at a time? Or are there ulterior motives at work here? We at the Clog decided to find out. We sat down with Cara Pearson, president of Pacific Cookie Company, to learn more about their developing promotional involvement in Berkeley.

Pearson explains that the company does in fact financially benefit from their bountiful giveaways to students. The investment of giveaways definitely pays itself back in more than just cookie crumbs. She notes that there is a notable influx of students that come into the store after they visit the promotional booth at Caltopia. The publicity and undeniably sweet samples that are offered at the event strike the perfect balance to have munchies-driven students going back for more. The company’s Berkeley location was actually chosen with the university student body largely in mind. They make a point of working with the university to capitalize on this opportunity. Pacific Cookie Company is directly involved with UC Berkeley and has a sponsorship relationship with Cal Recreation to donate their cookies for marketing exposure.

That doesn’t answer the question of their almost daily giveaways. So why does a business hand out so much of their inventory for free? It turns out that Pacific Cookie Company banks, both figuratively and literally, on students becoming hooked after their first taste. The point of all of the sharing is to give customers a taste of their product in hopes that they’ll come back on their own dime.  According to Pearson, the idea is, “If we can get a cookie in your mouth, we have a customer.” The variety of giveaways also helps expand individual’s cookie horizons. The Word of the Day promotion in particular gets people to experiment with new kinds of cookies.

Unfortunately, the days of daily free cookie giveaways are numbered. While that’s not to say the blessed system will be done away with completely, there are certainly some changes on the horizon. Pearson explained to us that the Word of the Day promotion is approaching its first birthday and has been very successful in giving people the chance to try baked goods that they wouldn’t usually be compelled to explore. But, as a business, Pacific Cookie Company is looking for ways to generate more actual purchases. This means that there will likely be more days where purchases are a prerequisite for a free item.

When asked how the student body is expected to react to these changes, Pearson acknowledged that the “tiny adjustment will definitely be noticed”. But, she is hoping that the community’s good past experience and discounts with the company has laid a foundation for a continuation of business, regardless of what the Word of the Day is.

Contact Amanda Chung at [email protected].