There are plenty of brands that utilise “the power of free” to successfully market their brand. For example, nearly every ice cream shop you visit on a scorching Summers day will offer free taster samples so a customer can choose a flavour they like.

But freebies don’t just have to be products a company sells, it may also be promotional products (giveaway items decorated with a brands logo).

Read more about what promotional products are.

It may seem a bit counter-intuitive at first. How is giving away something going to make your business more money? You want to be earning a profit!

But you might be surprised that it has a proven track record. Read on to find why freebie marketing works and what the benefits to your business are.

Free fried chicken samples

Why Does Freebie Marketing Work?

There many reasons why successful businesses give away a free trial, sample or use freebies in their business strategy.

Here are the reasons why free marketing works:


Reciprocity in social psychology is a social norm of responding to a positive action in kind with another positive action.

Meaning if someone gives you a free sample of something you feel a great obligation to “return the favour” and purchase that product or at least consider it.

Alleviates Uncertainty

This is especially common well in the software space or when launching a new product/flavour.

One of the big reasons why someone may not buy from you is because all of their questions have not been answered about the product.

  • Will it solve my needs?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • What if I change my mind?

Are some example questions that might be going through someone’s head when they’re considering options.

Offering a free trial or sample allows you to instantly make those uncertainties disappear and greatly increase purchase likelihood.

Woman shrugging hands

The Power Of Free

A phrase popularized by the behavioural economist Dan Ariely in his book Predictably Irrational.

“Free” isn’t just a price tag, it’s a powerful emotional trigger that can tempt even the most rationale.

To put things simply, people love free things and will do things they wouldn’t usually do because of this.

An experiment was conducted that offered chocolates to students for a small price. A chocolate truffle and a Hershey’s kiss for (15 cents and 1 cent respectively). Nearly 3 out of 4 students chose the truffle.

Next, they changed the price to be 14 cents for the truffle and the Hersheys kisses were now offered free. You would assume that the price difference was still the same (14 cents) there shouldn’t be a difference about which chocolates a student would pick, but that wasn’t the case.

After this change more than two-thirds of the students now chose the free chocolate over the truffle!

Amazon and other popular eCommerce brands use the power of free all the time. “Free Shipping” that is.

We know it isn’t really free. But the power of the words undoubtedly has a big impact on our value perception and our purchasing decisions.

What Are The Benefits Of Freebie Marketing?

Increases Sales

Costco is one of the kings for offering free samples, understanding that free samples both increase a short term sale life as well as long term lifetime customer value.

In fact, the “free sample experience” is apart of the reason they have such a loyal customer base.

And of course, any online eCommerce retailer will know about the benefits of offering free shipping. There are many studies out there that show free shipping can increases total sales and order value.

We also frequently get feedback from happy customers the detail the positive return on investment they have received for implementing free promotional products or corporate gifts into their marketing strategy.

Builds Your Marketing Database

Offering free resources gated behind a simple form that captures an email address and name gives you a foot in the door to build a relationship.

Or perhaps at your next trade show you offer a free gift in exchange for the recipients business card.

Both of these strategies allow you to increase your marketing database and develop a strategy to turn these prospects into a paying customer and progress them further down the sales funnel.

Promotional travel mug on table

Improves Brand Image

Do you want your business to be the friend who remembers birthdays every year and sends a thoughtful gift or the one that always seems to conveniently forget?

People do business with people they like. And if you’re going to the effort to do something your competitors are not it’s going to get remembered.

Giving gifts or free products helps to increases trustworthiness and positive perceptions of your brand.

People love to be recognised.

Nudge Towards A Desired Action

A great example of using “freebies” to nudge a customer towards a desired action is holding a competition.

For example, offering a free prize to entrants who follow the brand on social media and comment on a post.

Or perhaps offer freebies if they provide you with some user-generated content such as a video or photo.

These are extremely valuable forms of social proof that will greatly improve your brand image and increase your conversion rate.

Examples Of Freebie Marketing


Relevant to their name the convenience store 7-11 has a day (7th of November) dedicated to “free Slurpees” one of their iconic offerings that are recognised by many.

This always generates them a huge amount of buzz on social media and positive PR.

Guzman Y Gomez

A Mexican fast-food restaurant with many locations throughout Australia that understands how to leverage the power of free.

They have offered free burritos on new restaurant opening days.

This has been extremely successful in spreading awareness of the restaurant and has caused around the block queues.

Amazon Free Shipping

Amazon is well known for its free delivery offering and is a big attribution to why it is now so successful.

In the past they started offering free shipping with the purchase of a second book they found that sales increased everywhere, that is except for France.

Further investigation revealed the shipping cost in France wasn’t actually free it was one franc (about 20 cents). And unsurprising enough after this was made free sales also increased.

Bulk Nutrients

An online supplier of fitness supplements throws in a free sample with every order.

This acts as both a nice “thank you” gift and encourages customers to find new supplements they may like to order in the future.

A great idea.


Free is not just a price tag, it’s a powerful emotional trigger that you as a marketer or business owner should be aware of.

Successful businesses are already utilising the “power of free” to attract, delight and retain customers and clients.

In fact, our whole industry is built on the premise of people loving free things!

Do you have some ideas as to how you can use “free” to grow your business?