Free stuff, but only if you give out your private information

I was thinking about the economy and what others are saying.  There is a surge in food bank usage, people are foreclosing, and even universities are asking for donations for education and not so much for building names.  The concept of getting something free for your demographics information has been around for awhile.  Lately, I have been thinking about the value of getting free stuff (excluding celebrities who get free stuff just because).  I came across a website that let you sign up for a free logo’d t-shirt from businesses and another website that gave me free products to test out.  They’re all great, but isn’t the goal to get people to buy your stuff?  You could argue that it’s also to get feedback, but I will completely ignore that for the sake of my argument.   I am thinking that the target market is really not the free stuff enthusiasts. I will make a hard claim that the people who want free stuff are those who won’t pay for such things or do not have the money in order to do so.  So my advice to you is think twice about giving out free stuff.  What are you trying to achieve?  Who are you trying to win over?

Sophia Perl

Sophia Perl is a product manager for a database tool at IBM. She has over 10 years of software development and management experience. Sophia holds a BS in Computer Science from University of Southern California and an MBA from University of California at Davis. She is the creator of iPhone apps PicPredict and Eventabulous.

2 thoughts on “Free stuff, but only if you give out your private information

  1. Sophia,
    I own a dance studio and have found over the last three years that as we set up charitable “free” dance for individuals in need, people never treat it like it is worth anything. Our solution is to no longer give anything away but rather “work with them” on what they can afford, not because don’t want to give it away, but because we want the person to actually show up to class and learn something.
    Should a business person not only view payment as their means of survival but also a type of commitment. Having just passed election season, shouldn’t people running for office try to get those five dollar donations because it is not five bucks in the old spending account but rather a committed vote before election day?

  2. Ahhh, interesting point of view. I have seen this approach be used for various startup talks around Silicon Valley (e.g., pay $5 to attend). One thing that I heard about was one store forgot the name but it was a big name store wanted to give away hot dogs. What happened was there were some tax implications about giving out free things, so they decided to charge $1 for it. I wonder if their sales would be higher or lower b/c of it. For instance, there was this one case study about a jewelry store selling turquoise jewelry. The price was very low (okay not the same as free), but no one would buy it. The owner decided to jack up the price a bit, then customers started buying. So I wonder if the perceived value of free or near free influences how customers feel about the quality of the product. Well, the obvious answer is yes. Would you rather eat a free hot dog or $1 hot dog? Hmmm… Now back to your dance lesson bit, I did attend a free dance lesson once. I just went to see what it was like and did not feel compelled to attend subsequent lessons. I am not sure if I would attend if there was a charge. But according to your argument, my commitment was definitely not there b/c it was free. Maybe you’re right! :)

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