Free offer is not equal to cheap product: A selective accessibility account on the valuation of free offers

Mauricio Palmeira, Joydeep Srivastava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Many consumer price promotions (including new product launches) offer a product for free or for a low, discounted price along with a required purchase. This research demonstrates that consumers willingness to pay for the product after the promotion is retracted is higher when it was offered for free than when it was offered at a low, discounted price. The underlying reasoning is that the price of the product on promotion is used as a natural anchor for value estimation. However, when the product is offered for free (i.e., zero price), consumers are less likely to consider the value of the product and are influenced by anchors such as the price of the focal purchase. In contrast to some prior findings, a free offer does not devalue the product at all and, at a minimum, devalues the product less than if it were offered for a low, discounted price.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644 - 656
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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