The Power of Free

The Power of Free – How to Use It for Growing Your Business.

Why does free stuff make us irrational and how can you use it now?

Dan Ariely is a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University and the author of the famous book Predictably Irrational.

He has spent years researching how “free” affects consumer behavior.

He once hired somebody to give out free tattoos at a party. People who otherwise may not have considered a tattoo — especially not on a whim — got inked up because the price was right.

He co-authored a study titled “Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products

This study revealed that more than 2x as many people chose an inferior free chocolate sample to one of a much higher quality that only cost $0.13.

His researchers conducted other experiments involving real chocolates and photos of chocolates, and the results were similar every time.

A Good Feeling
Apparently, there is a “positive glow” that people feel about not having to pay according to a similar report.

Free Shipping
According to the 2019 Walker Sands Future of Retail Survey, 77% of 1.6k respondents said free shipping had made them more likely to buy an item online, ranking far above inducements like same-day shipping or the ability to visualize products in 3D.

If you are selling physical products online this may be worth noting.

According to Professor Ariely:

“…the popularity of free shipping is attractive for another reason. Consumers have a difficult time understanding why shipping should cost anything:

A) They feel OK paying for a tangible product, but they don’t compute how the time and labor involved with shipping should drive up the price.
B) The added price of shipping makes them see the total purchase as having an “unfair” cost.

When the “unfair” barrier is removed (by making shipping free), people are more likely to buy the product.”

Amazon’s Early Experiments
During Amazon’s early days, the company introduced free shipping in several European countries. In France, it reduced shipping to one franc. While business increased dramatically in the free shipping countries, purchases in France didn’t rise at nearly as high of a rate.

Free Samples
Early advertising legend Claude Hopkins tells a story about learning the power of free as a boy:

“When I was ten years old mother was left a widow. From that time on I had to support myself and contribute to the support of the family. Mother made a silver polish. I molded it into cake form and wrapped it in pretty paper. Then I went from house to house to sell it.

I found that I sold about one woman in ten by merely talking about the polish at the door.

But when I could get into the pantry and demonstrate the polish (providing a sample with demo) I sold to nearly all.”

Hopkins (1866–1932) was one of the great advertising pioneers. He believed advertising existed only to sell something and should be measured and justified by the results it produced.

Back to Professor Ariely:
“The “free” aspect of a free sample causes the same glowing feeling that people experienced with the (chocolate sampling), and people who receive the free sample want to reciprocate. You feel obligated to some degree, [making] it more likely you buy the full package…”

Learn how to use the power of free for your offer without losing money…