The 'Free' aphrodisiac

'But there are smaller ways we deceive ourselves as well, ways we’re often not aware of. Professor Ariely has found that the word “free” acts like a drug for many people.

“It’s no secret that getting something free feels very good,” he wrote in his book “Predictably Irrational.” “Zero is an emotional hot button — a source of irrational excitement.”....

Free is not bad, but it can lead us to make unwise or at least useless choices. Who hasn’t loaded up on freebies at a convention that you later toss away? Or bought two DVDs to get the third free when you had planned to purchase only one? But it is more insidious when we are blinded by what in reality will be a higher price. Take, for example, a credit card that may appear to be a better deal because it charges no annual fees. But it’s not necessarily better because it charges a higher interest rate than one that does require yearly fees.

In this age of online shopping, the phrase “free shipping” acts like an aphrodisiac. David R. Bell, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, says that a free-shipping offer that saves $6.99 is more appealing to many customers than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.....'

- Alina Tugend; ‘Two for One’ ... ‘Free Delivery’ ... Hooked Yet?'


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