People skeptical about 'free' products

STONY BROOK, N.Y., June 16 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they found that people really believe that there is no free lunch, or you can't get "something for nothing."

Study authors Michael A. Kamins of Stony Brook University, Valerie S. Folkes of the University of Southern California and Alexander Fedorikhin of Indiana University find that describing a bundled item -- like razors and razor blades -- as free decreases the amount consumers are willing to pay for each product when sold individually. They call this the "freebie devaluation" effect.


"Why does a freebie decrease the price consumers are willing to pay for each individual product? Our research shows that consumers tend to make inferences about why they are getting such a great deal that detract from perceptions of product quality," the study authors say in a statement. "For example, consumers figure the companies can't sell the product without this marketing gimmick."

However, the study authors said there are exceptions to the freebie devaluation rule -- such as when products were paired so consumers would become familiar with the freebies, they were willing to pay more.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.


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