F for Free

Understanding People A to Z

A Good For Nothing Ticket from Google Images

What do you do with freebies?

What’s the last freebie I got?

Why do I always want something free?

Who are these people who give free stuff?

Why do they do it?

🤔 These are some of the questions I’ve been seeking answers to, after I met a family who had Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags thrown around their office but still wanted free Jewellery. It struck me then that free is not linked to affordability, it’s a bigger drug.

The last freebie I got was a small packet that Dunzo gave with my delivery order. Obviously, I was thrilled. I wasn’t expecting it and I was high in anticipation of what would be inside. I opened it to find a tea bag, and some stuff I don’t remember now. Although nothing was of any use to me, the contents didn’t disappoint. We have very low expectations regarding the quality of a freebie, and these lowered standards are easily surpassed by companies.

Then, why do we work so hard to get something that we already have very low expectations from?

I got introduced to the concept of Zero Price Effect in Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. It says that the word “free” can short-circuit a person’s rational thinking. 🤯 It is an emotional trigger that makes us do outlandish things — stand in queues for hours, fight over ice-cream flavours, hoard things we don’t need or even like, buy expensive things to get the free gift.

This is the science: When I’m paying my hard-earned cash for something, I’m taking a risk. I might not like what I get, in which case I’ll lose money. And like you, I definitely don’t like losing money. But when an item is free, it’s perceived as having a higher value because it doesn’t come with that risk.

“Free only implies benefits and no costs,” says Juan Nicolau, a professor of economics. “While another offer with a positive price, no matter how small it is, always conveys both benefits and costs.”

I’ve fallen for these free traps. What about you? (Calling it traps cause no freebie comes without strings attached. They are always linked to sales.)

  • Hotel room with Free Breakfast (always).
  • Email ID in exchange for a Free Downloadable .pdf.
  • Add more to your cart for Free Shipping.
  • Watch this ad to get a Free Badge.
  • Free Points to Shop More
  • Free Manicures with facials
  • Free voucher for survey

Are there more effective ways to give freebies?

As a marketer, I don’t want my freebies to be living inside drawers. I want consumers to see value in them, use them. The first step is to give a useful product. But what else? Still learning about this. If you have anything that leads me further in this direction, please share in the comments.