Free is the New Cheap!
Save Money & Time - Be a Smart Shopper
FREE, it is a sign on a curb, a flash on a web page. But did you know that this marketing strategy has been in existence since early on? King C. Gillette first started marketing razor blades that were disposable, giving some of these away for free, he created a market that would bring in income through return customers. Today some companies have leveraged free to do everything from selling ad space, establishing a customer loyalty base, to getting rid of old product.
What though is the real price of free? Has it given us all we hoped for?
First lets examine free as it was intended by King C. Gillette. Then, we will see some of the fallout free has caused both in social aspects and in the market place. Finally, we'll discuss free as a supplement.
1) Mr. Gillette had in mind one thing while giving away these new disposable razors, that was "money". You might think "Sure but he was giving them away for free." While this is true, he was also building a base of customers who were not only happy to have free razors, but would continue to buy the replacements for a long time to come. In a sense the free currency had just begun. All those people who now had free razors would now want to buy replacement blades for them. Hence, he created a money flow that would last longer than a one-time straight razor purchase. Thus, his use of free ensured him more money in the long run.
2) What though have we come to expect from this marketing strategy? A lot to say the least. We now expect to get tons of things for free. Buying a car, we think "What can they throw in for free?". A store's grand opening, we're saying to ourselves "What are they giving away to new customers?". A constant web surfer? Then your always on the look out for what a website will give you, whether it is off of an item, with the item, or just a plain gift for using their site. At what point did we all need to be rewarded simply for stepping up to the counter and paying for what we needed in the first place?
The effect this has had on the market place is notable. Now your just not a fashionable store if you don't offer a rewards program. If it is a holiday you can bet a number of stores are running giveaways, gifts, or parties in the parking lot. Now companies take a loss giving away free products hoping for return customers. All to often though the majority of customers may never really buy the product in the long run.
"Simply put, many of us expect more and bigger rewards for doing what we may have done anyway." A&A
3) Free can be beneficial, it is hardly doom and gloom. The truth is that we have all fallen in love with free, we seek it out and when we find it, then we are victorious. Finding samples, and free products can be a great supplement to what we already have to buy. Shampoos, soaps, and small electronics are just the beginning of free. Everyday across the web, in stores and on TV, free is matching the US$ for a battle to become the most worth while form of payment. We can have free as it is one of the most widely traded currencies out there.
In conclusion, look around, free is for the taking and anymore all you need to be is a regular customer. Free is the new cheap, start saving today!
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