Free products or ‘freebies’ are used to create a relationship between the brand and the consumer, giving the impression that the company values the consumer by giving them what is ‘more or less’, a gift. Who doesn’t like receiving gifts?
Freebies may have been totally free in the past, but this seems rare nowadays. The modern day freebie comes with a price; it may not be a cash price but a price none-the-less.
There are many everyday examples where the price of freebies can be seen being paid:
• In the harsh school environment where a child is given free lunches from the school. That child needs to deal with the unfortunate negative stigma by other students, thus paying for the freebie through reputation. You are paying with your reputation.
• Spotify… free? The consumer pays for the service with their time and non-optional consumption of advertisements between song choices. You are paying with your time.
• Drug dealers, “first bags free”? As I’m sure many of you will know, drugs have addictive qualities. Through a drug dealer giving away a ‘free bag’, their underlining intentions is to develop, both, a trust to that specific dealer and a drug reliance. This ensures the dealer is getting future purchases from said individual. You are paying with your loyalty.
Even the traditional street freebie now comes with a price. This price will more than likely be the receiving of marketing emails. Email captures are very valuable to any successful business, it allows the brand to invasively target and connect with the consumer in the future. You are paying with your time.
“We welcome freebies into our lives with open arms.”
The modern day freebie as discussed above require’s the non-cash payment method of time, reputation, and loyalty. Due to these costs of ‘freebies’, the public has become suspicious of the transaction. Trust between the consumers and freebies has been fractured due to the fear of the true costs. People are not educated and they no longer want to put themselves in situations which could ‘endanger’ their time, loyalty or reputation. They know the alternative motive.
How many times have YOU walked past someone on the street giving away a ‘freebie’ and cut them off mid-sentence with “no thank you”?
I am not saying that freebies are a dying out advertising platform or that it is not an effective method. I am saying that not as many people are not prepared to pay these known ‘costs’ of freebies.
Freebies can be a fun and active platform of getting your brand out to the masses. The difference between now and the past is that there are expectations of receiving something back from the consumer. Does it make the term ‘freebie’ for this platform redundant?