Utilize the Irrational Power of Free

If you have ever so much as look towards the field of Economics, you will probably heard the infamous saying “There are no free lunches”. Yet, whether prominent Economist or just regular person, we are all susceptible to the irrationally great power of free.

In his great book, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely recites the results of a study where they examined what the word “Free” actually does to do. The results are pretty incredible.

“The Chocolate Study”

In the study, they offered two pieces of chocolates (a cheaper Hershey’s Kiss and a premium Lindt) at different prices. The astonishing result is that even though the subjects could get an incredible deal at the premium Lindt chocolate (making it the rationally best choice), almost everyone chose instead to get a free Hershey’s Kiss. The effect was only present when the Hershey’s Kiss was free. As soon as the subjects had to choose between paying an amount for either, many more realized the rationally good choice of choosing the (very cheaply priced) Lindt.

So, how do we use it?

Marketers have been trying to use the power of free for a long time. Buy 3 get 1 free, 30% more free and similar techniques are commonplace and that is just because the word “Free” has an irrationally large effect in our brains.

What should you learn from this? Instead of offering percentage discounts of multiple products, try and create an offer that includes free, such as “Buy 1, Get 1 Free”.

Be Careful and Honest

It is worth noting that you should be honest while using this technique. Most regulation on marketing has for these very reasons zoned in on the use of the word “free”.

Make sure an item is actually completely free, with no other costs associated if you offer it for free. If you are advertising it as free, it should be free. Not a payment charge, not an extra mandatory shipping charge or other type of administrative charge. Keep to this and you will have both successful campaigns that use the power of free, while complying with regulation, being honest and keeping your customers happy. Win, win, win!