Lancome GWP - Why gifts with purchase don't matter anymore

When I was growing up in a suburb of Houston my mom would take me to the mall for two things, back to school clothes shopping and Clinique's Gift with Purchase. 
It was my first love affair with beauty products and it wasn't until much later that I realized Clinique's complexion products were primarily pink based in the 80's.  And I, like 90% of the world, have a yellow/golden skin undertone.  It explains a lot about incredibly unflattering photographs from that era in my life. Oops.

A few weeks ago a couple of my colleagues trekked over to the incredibly depressing mall 2 blocks up for Lancome's gift with purchase extravaganza.   Now, our workplace is situated in the heart of the fashion district and there is a plethora of clothing and accessories options from vintage to one of kind handmade.  Unfortunately, not the same can be said for the beauty retail experience in downtown LA.  The only main store available is the Macy's in the sadly decrepit mall on the corner of 7th and Hope. 
(Although it has proved an useful field trip for my branding class to experience the demise of the current retail environment)

When my colleague returned from the Lancome event and re-gifted her freebie eyeshadow quad to me I was excited to try my new toy.  Yay, free stuff!  A couple days later I tried out the new pretty blue shades.  The shadow was a watered down version of their original formula, I'm assuming made in China.  Sheer and short lived it was a total disappointment and then I realized, what use is something if it doesn't perform?

Free isn't always free.

With most of beauty production moving to China our modern day GWP is built in to each super cheap purchase.  100 shadows for $10, seems like a good deal but what's the point?

Do we need more or rather, better?