Why We All Love Getting Free Stuff

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There’s not a lot of products people won’t accept if you give it to them for $0.00. It’s a known fact that the one surefire way to move inventory is to mark it free. This is far from a novel concept, but have you ever stopped to wonder why we love free stuff? We don’t need the majority of free stuff we get, so why are we all so eager to get a bag of free goodies at a trade show or conference?

The reason is expectation.

There’s an old, somewhat cynical, adage that says you’ll never be disappointed if you set your expectations low enough. Albeit pessimistic, this proverb holds the secret to why we freak out for free. It’s because we don’t expect anything, so we can only be impressed.

When we get a free promotional product from a salesperson or vendor, we subconsciously expect it to be low quality and unimpressive. So on the off chance it actually serves a useful purpose, we’re willing to accept the free offer.

The Penny Gap

One great way to illustrate the power of free is to examine the penny gap experiment. In Free: the Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson, people were given the option of getting a chocolate truffle for 18 cents or a Hershey’s Kiss for a penny. The majority of people took the truffle at these price points. However, when the truffle was offered for a penny and the Kiss was offered for free, the majority picked the Kiss. Hershey Kisses are incredibly ubiquitous. They can easily be found in waiting rooms and lobbies all across America, so the only way people would take one is if it’s free.

This principle is why people are willing to take promotional products with your logo slapped all over it home with them. It’s your chance to plant a little reminder about your company every time they happen to glance at it. It’s time to embrace the power of free and start handing out promotional products to your next new customers.