FREE Drives Me Crazy


Remember the last time you picked up a FREE coupon for something? Maybe even for something you never needed before? I’ve noticed that something happens inside me when I see FREE. It’s hard to describe, but it just feels good.

So What’s So Exciting About FREE?

In Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely says something very interesting about this subject:

“Zero is not just another price, it turns out. Zero is an emotional hot button – a source of irrational excitement…Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE, we forget the downside and that FREE gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”

I absolutely agree with Dan because that is exactly what happens to me; however, I’d like to take it a step further and state that there is nothing really FREE in business, the “downside” as Dan states. There is always somewhat of a hidden agenda, that most often has something to do with a company’s advertising efforts or attempts to change my behavior in a certain way. Therefore, FREE is not solely associated with monetary value.

FREE is powerful!

The behavioral change happens to various degrees. For example, when a bank teases you to sign up for a FREE checking account, the product is “sold” to you for literally nothing, but once you look into the details, you’ll find out that there are extraordinarily high hidden fees, and more. Thus, not “FREE” after all. The behavioral change the bank triggered was very light since most people have a checking account. An example of a bigger behavioral change would be a car manufacturer that wants me to switch to an electric car, and will waive all the related fees to motivate me to do so.


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