Picture yourself walking down the street on your way to work. As you are walking, you suddenly see an empty Starbucks cup in the gutter. The site of a dirty cup may not be pleasant, but the thought of hot, rich Starbucks coffee to jump start your morning is suddenly inviting.

The next thing you know, you’re rounding the block, zeroing in on a neon sign containing an aquatic maiden surrounded by a distinctive green loop. Starbucks is beckoning you to over a Venti nonfat half-caff soy latte with extra whip.

So what inspired you to make the purchase? It was not the store location or the advertising that Starbucks pays for. This morning, it was that empty coffee cup you saw in the gutter.

The image of the Starbucks logo triggered your memory to think about your last cup of coffee — how it tasted when the hot liquid met your mouth and when your upper lip touched the frothy whipped topping. And on your way to work, all you can think about is that cup of coffee. You may normally walk past Starbucks, but today you went inside.

Brand logos have an incredibly high value because of their ability to make you, the consumer, instantaneously think about the bigger picture.

If a woman sees a CVS bag blowing down the street, it might remind her that she needs more Q-Tips and shampoo. And when she goes to make that purchase later, she is probably more likely to shop at CVS.

Think about an empty Cinnabon box you see at the mall. Not only are you going to be stopping at American Eagle and Express, but you will be finding your way to the food court to grab a bite of that cinnamony deliciousness. You know in the back of your head that every mall has a Cinnabon, but it is not until you see the empty container that you now want to go there.

What do the Starbucks cup, the CVS bag, and the Cinnabon box all have in common? They are trash!

Trash is driving sales all across America. It’s the company’s logo on the trash that is really driving the sales, but the fact is, it is free advertising for companies. When somebody litters or reuses a bag with a retailer’s name and logo on it, then that person is indirectly driving sales for the company.

There are so many advertisements which bombard us everyday that many times, we simply ignore the message. It seems that incremental sales growth is mostly likely to happen when consumers least expect it-when looking at trash.

Whether it is resting in a waste can or lying in the street, the logos on the trash remind us of things we may want. And once we get thinking, especially about food, many consumers make a purchase. During a difficult time for economic growth, litter-bugs may just be the secret step to growing sales.

About The Author

MJ Paradiso is the business editor of Blast Magazine.

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