Michelle Wiggins

The spirit of sharing was alive and well this past holiday season, but not in the way some marketers might have expected. Retailers often reward their employees with “friends-and-family” discount promotions meant to bring in a little more business and allow employees to help their loved ones do their holiday shopping. But as companies extend these discounts to online and phone orders via promotion codes that don’t require the remittance of a paper coupon, the far-reaching hand of e-mail has turned these efforts into friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend discounts. In a Dec. 3 article in The Wall Street Journal (“The Discounts You Aren’t Meant to Have”), reporter

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