“Buy two, get one free!”

Free”. Best word ever.

We have all fallen for the same trick many times. It’s not our fault though, who doesn’t like freebies? People do a quick double take anytime they hear the word. Marketers will say it’s the magic word that gets customers through the door in the first place.

Like a double-edged sword, Freebie marketing has its pros and cons. Patty Morrison from Royal Pavillion says, it is how you use it that matters. In a bid to get more information and business patronage from customers, many online businesses offer a ‘free’ item(s) in return.

Here are 4 reasons why the strategy is successful.

  1. Generosity catches people’s attention

Compelling ideas and stories must reach a vantage position before they start to pick momentum, and what better way to tip them over the edge than to be generous? There are so many distractions in the world, from glorified ads to ingenuine cause marketing. People don’t know its worth buying anymore. Most people make purchases because of emotional connections while others do so because of recommendations from a trusted friend.

Hence, giving away a part of your product for free makes the purchase decision easier, plus people want the opportunity to find out more about it, gauge the value, and then reward for it.

  1. People tend to buy more afterwards

Offering a “free gift inside” prompts people to buy more, especially when they have no clue what the gift inside entails. This mystery gifting is especially effective if the product is exciting stuff. For example, expensive make-up and the perfume industry which are popular for the “free gift” promos make use of affective purchasing. This is when people buy for emotional reasons, or to make themselves happy. Such purchases inspired by surprise optimism, make people want to buy more.




  1. People believe getting ‘more’ is better than a discount

Studies conducted by researchers have shown that people will rather pick 33% more coffee, than get a discount of 33% off from purchase, even though they are better off getting the discount when you measure the costs per ounce.

The reason for this is people hardly put their logic brain to work when making affective buying decisions, especially when the word ‘free’ is put in the equation. In fact, majority of respondents in the research believed 33% more and 33% discount were similar in comparison. In truth, the discount is equivalent to getting 50% extra in unit price.

When shoppers disregard calculating the figures, their decision-making process is guided by emotional factors. People see getting something free or extra as a benefit, while a discount is merely reducing the cost paid from their pocket. Simply put, we would rather benefit than lose, even if it’s not to our advantage economically.



  1. Freebies give more free promotion

When online stores offer freebies, the news spreads fast. People promote it all over social media and before long, the internet is agog about it. Sure, getting freebies is a minuscule benefit to the customer, but the brands stand to gain more from the free promotion.

The growth of social media has increased many companies interest in “word of mouth” marketing and brand reputation. Getting people to say good things about you, is just as good as traditional advertising. Many FMCGs have discovered that the most effective way to start people talking positively about their product is to offer it under the “free” price tag.

In yet another study, it was proved that people who received a free product talked about it 20% more.

Therefore, the next time you are offered something for free, ask yourself, who is really gaining?