Swimsuit company racks up 750,000 followers, makes small fortune from ‘giveaway’

Sunny Co Clothing wins the internet with their viral swimsuit giveaway

If you went all day Tuesday without seeing something about a swimsuit giveaway on your Instagram timeline, you probably didn’t spend very much time online.

Sunny Co Clothing was started just a few months ago by a group of students from the University of Arizona. On Tuesday, they had an idea for a contest, that would hopefully generate some engagement for their Instagram. They would “give away” free swimsuits to anyone that was willing to re-share their post and tag their account.

The giveaway quickly blew up, garnering more than 300,000 likes and skyrocketing their account to over 750,000 followers – from the mere 7,000 they had on Monday.

The internet quickly realized that this surely had to be a scam… right?

… Not exactly. While Sunny Co’s website now has all of their promo products marked as “sold out,” the young marketers weren’t ever posed to take a loss on the promotion. Free isn’t actually free when you’re asked to pay shipping.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Buyers were charged $12.98 for domestic shipping, which is significantly more than it costs to mail something in the United States.

“A package like that would cost $2.77 to ship using USPS First Class, and about $0.10 in packaging” said Barrett Shepherd, CEO of Simpl Fulfillment, a company that specializes in e-commerce fulfillment.

And that bathing suit definitely wasn’t worth $80 either. Suppliers on Chinese wholesale site Alibaba offer the same suits Sunny Co was selling for as little as $2.87.

Sunny Co Clothing's bathing suits on Alibaba

Sunny Co is looking at profits upwards of $6 per swimsuit ‘given away’ – not to mention the value added from building their email list, growing their Instagram to three-quarters of a million followers strong, and the future organic sales that will come from each.

While the e-commerce company may have been ill-prepared for their overnight success, they’ve certainly positioned themselves to make a great deal of profit on the sale of ‘free’ swimsuits – so long as their customers are willing to wait a while.