Why do consumers love freebies?

The Freebie Dilemma: Balancing Consumer Psychology, Brand Value, and the Power of Free Sampling


If you notice a large gathering of people or a queue forming outside a shop, it is likely that someone is giving away something. You may have also observed people waiting inside an in-store kiosk to try a “new flavored” coffee for free or arguing over the last cereal bar being shared by an employee outside the tube station.

Recently, the seemingly irrational impact of free items has become evident. For instance, people might engage in physical fights with strangers over a freebie they had no intention of purchasing initially. This behavior was examined in a study titled “Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products” conducted in 2007. The study found that consumers would prefer to receive a lower-quality bar of free chocolate rather than purchase a luxury chocolate brand at an 80% discounted price.

Another example comes from the Walker Sands Future of Retail Survey conducted in 2019. The survey revealed that online shoppers were more likely to complete a purchase if the delivery was offered free of charge, as opposed to saving a slightly higher amount on the purchase price but having to pay for shipping expenses.


The aforementioned examples clearly demonstrate that the effectiveness of the “free trick” or “freebie” lies in the psychological aspects of human behavior rather than mere money-saving considerations. Some commonly employed types of freebies include:

  1. Extra free product: This involves providing an additional quantity or volume of a product for the same price, such as offering 250 ml more milk when purchasing a 1L package or implementing “1+1 Gratis” promotions.
  2. Gifts attached to a product: Brands may attach a complimentary item, like a cork opener with a bottle of wine, or provide standalone gifts like branded magnetic photo frames that cater to the target audience.
  3. Free service: Offering free delivery for online orders is an example of providing a free service to customers.

One particularly impactful freebie strategy is providing free samples of a product, commonly known as “sampling.” This strategy aims to drive brand trial and, if properly planned and executed, can significantly boost a brand’s sales. Examples showcasing the positive impact of sampling include:

  • Mary Hanbury, Senior Retail Reporter, noted that Costco’s decision to distribute free samples in-store is actually a brilliant business strategy (Business Insider, 2018).
  • The Atlantic (2014) reported an increase in sales of products like frozen pizza, lipstick, and wine after the distribution of product samples.

However, as mentioned by Mark Dent, author of The Hustle (2022), consumer behavior may not always be rational when it comes to freebies. It is challenging to predict people’s reactions in such scenarios. Therefore, brands and marketing experts should carefully study consumer behavior before making decisions. Factors such as the media used, the product itself, brand awareness, target audience, and market needs can influence the outcome of a free sampling campaign.

The key question brand managers must answer is

”Should my brand use a freebies strategy in the marketing mix?”

As with many challenging business questions, the answer is “it depends” and hinges on the brand’s marketing objectives:

  • If the brand aims to encourage trial, freebies, particularly through sampling, can be beneficial. Sampling provides consumers with a risk-free opportunity to try the product and can lead to long-term relationships between the brand and consumers. However, not all brands and circumstances are suited for sampling. There are prerequisites for a successful sampling activity, which will be detailed in the next article.
  • If the brand faces a fundamental value proposition issue where consumers believe the brand is not worth the price, using freebies or giveaways will not solve the underlying problem. Freebies in this case only temporarily balance the perceived value equation. This approach is not sustainable, as the problem will resurface once the freebies are discontinued, leading to a decline in sales. Attempting to address a value issue with freebies is a potentially “addictive” and escalating tactic. Over time, greater incentives (freebies) will be required to achieve the same impact as consumers become accustomed to them. Therefore, in the case of a value issue, it is crucial to fix the underlying problem rather than relying on freebies, as they provide only temporary relief.

Our experience with high-quality brand trial activities samples

Our experience with high-quality brand trial activities and samples: For over 26 years, we have assisted thousands of brands across three continents in effectively conveying their stories and establishing meaningful connections with their target audiences at the opportune moment. Our approach is based on facilitating high-quality product trials and education. Through our specialized sampling programs, we provide consumers with the opportunity to experience and utilize relevant products and services. The result has consistently shown that people are more likely to recognize and recall the brands they have had the chance to sample (Mumsvoice research, 2022).


Care Direct Experience Kits
Care Direct Gift Boxes offer a range of thoughtfully designed gift boxes for our sampling programs, featuring educational materials and free samples from renowned brands. Our primary objective is to connect with end users at the precise moment they embark on a new life stage that prompts a shift in their purchasing habits — the point of market entry.

Pregnancy Gift box by Care Direct
One of our notable offerings is the Pregnancy Gift Box by Care Direct. Throughout the nine-month journey of pregnancy, expecting mothers actively seek information and delve into extensive research, meticulously considering every aspect of this remarkable and emotional period in their lives. It is crucial to engage with them at the exact moment they start pondering these questions, ensuring that brands are prepared to provide them with warm and compassionate answers. We provide pregnant women and their families with an opportunity to experience relevant products during the third trimester of pregnancy.

By offering our Pregnancy Gift Box, we aim to support expecting mothers in their quest for knowledge and empower them to make informed decisions as they prepare for the arrival of their little ones. The gift box includes a curated selection of samples from trusted brands that align with their needs during this transformative phase. We understand the significance of this momentous journey and strive to assist pregnant women by providing them with valuable resources and the chance to try products that can enhance their pregnancy experience.

At Care Direct, we are committed to facilitating a seamless transition into new life stages by providing valuable information, educational materials, and high-quality product samples. Our Pregnancy Gift Box is just one example of our dedication to supporting individuals during significant milestones and ensuring that they have access to products that meet their specific needs.

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Baby Gift Box by Care Direct

Childbirth marks a profoundly significant milestone in the lives of women and their families. It is a day when not only a baby is born, but also when mothers and fathers are reborn, filled with a mix of emotions, questions, and anxieties. They embark on a journey of dedicating themselves entirely to nurturing their baby and building a resilient family unit. At Care Direct, we recognize the importance of this transformative period and strive to support new mothers and their families by providing them with the opportunity to try premium- products.

Our Baby Gift Box is thoughtfully tailored to be provided by maternity personnel to new mothers and their families during the crucial 2–3 days postpartum. Through close collaboration with maternity clinics, we ensure that this unique sampling experience is offered at the most opportune time. We recognize that during this period, new mothers are seeking guidance, reassurance, and reliable products to support them in their early parenting journey. By partnering with maternity personnel to distribute our Baby Gift Box, we aim to alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that new parents may encounter during this transitional phase.

By providing our Baby Gift Box, we aim to alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that new parents may experience. We carefully curate the contents of the gift box to include samples of products that are essential for the well-being of both the newborn and the mother. Our goal is to empower new moms and their families by introducing them to high-quality products that can support their baby’s development, enhance their parenting experience, and promote a sense of reassurance and confidence during this significant chapter of their lives.

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Our team is dedicated to ensuring your satisfaction and providing excellent customer service. We are always available to answer any questions, offer personalized advice, or assist you in choosing the perfect Gift Box.

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