Understanding the Psychology of Free Stuff

A speech bubble post that says 'FREE SAMPLE' on itCompanies employ a lot of tactics to promote their businesses. They may rely on conventional advertising and marketing (television, print, and radio) or on digital means. Perhaps they may use custom promotional products in Australia to their advantage. Promotional products, for that matter, are among the most effective—especially if they’re free.

The ‘Psychology of Free’

Duke University professor and author Dan Ariely states that even when faced with numerous choices, people will always choose the free one, regardless of its economic value. Professor Ariely claims that while many things have pros and cons, the free option makes people forget the downsides. The word free is powerful enough to emotionally charge a purchase, making whatever is being offered seem more valuable than it actually is.

There is a bit of a strange twist to this, however. Consumers today are relatively smarter than those from yesteryears. This means that even if something is free, they’ll still be a bit cautious. Although many consumers still want to feel like they’ve earned an item and are sometimes wary about strings attached, they will undeniably love something they feel is genuinely free.

When it comes to giving freebies, there is a bit of reverse psychology that makes it a tad tricky as a marketing ploy: customers might think an item is worthless just because it’s free. This is one thing that businesses should be well-aware of. The secret to making promotional freebies work is ensuring that they have tangible value . If it’s something like a free flyer or poster, it’s completely useless. But if it is something like a free USB flash drive, book, music/film file, or even a free blog site that can be used for certain purposes, people will gravitate to it.

It can be extremely hard to resist free, useful items. According to the results of Costco’s free sampling efforts at their stores, sales can increase by as much as a whopping 2000-percent. But while numbers back this up, it’s also a minefield due to people still wanting to feel like they earn whatever they get.

Companies must understand that balance is critical to making free stuff work as a promotional tool. It’s a double-edged sword, to say the least.