The psychology of freebies

Happy friends holding shopping bags

With major retail events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up (where giveaways and discounts abound), our research team decided to look into people's feelings towards freebies. And, by reaching out to 2,000 people via a poll, we weren't surprised to discover that the Brits are super-big fans of free stuff.

Statistic: ¼ participants get a lasting buzz after a freebie

In fact, the majority of adults reported that they feel a 'buzz' up to 7 days afterwards and it even boosts their mental health. Half of our interviewees admitted that they would spend more on a purchase if it comes with a freebie, and on average they'll pay an extra 11% over their original budget.

To look more into the physiological side of freebies, we employed the help of a renowned psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulos. She confirmed our findings from a physiological perspective, saying that receiving something for free releases the 'feel good' hormone, dopamine, in our brain, which explains why we experience such satisfaction and pleasure.

Statistic: ½ will spend more if freebie included

Lastly, in addition to the commercial aspect of freebies, we found that 6 in 10 adults feel that the best things in life are free. Some of the answers included a good night's sleep, getting a hug, waking up to sunshine, and hitting every green light on a journey.

Freebies used to make customers feel like friends of a brand - Dr. Papadopoulos

Drawing on our study and the expert insights of Dr Linda, we've created an infographic to give you a better understanding of the psychology of freebies of all kinds, as well as how and why they make us feel so good.Download the infographic

Here are 50 of the best free things in life, according to our respondents:

  1. A walk in the countryside
  2. A good night's sleep
  3. Waking up to sunshine
  4. Spending time with family
  5. Being in nature
  6. Random acts of kindness
  7. Spending time with someone you love
  8. Feeling healthy and fit
  9. Getting a hug from someone
  10. Laughing until your sides hurt
  11. Seeing a beautiful sunrise
  12. The start of summer
  13. Hearing your partner say 'I love you'
  14. Reading a book
  15. Getting something for free
  16. The smell of baking
  17. A lie-in
  18. Being proud of your children for something they've done
  19. Finishing work on a Friday
  20. Pets making you laugh
  21. Having someone cook you a meal
  22. Taking a relaxing bath
  23. Smelling fresh flowers
  24. Visiting a new place
  25. Getting a compliment from a stranger
  1. Receiving gifts
  2. A perfect cup of tea
  3. Having eight hours sleep each night
  4. A glass of water when you're parched
  5. A call from a friend you haven't spoken to for a while
  6. Looking through old photos
  7. Coming home to a tidy/clean house
  8. Spending time alone
  9. Checking off a to do list
  10. Taking off your shoes after a long day
  11. Splashing in the sea
  12. Being indoors on a rainy day
  13. Having the first coffee/tea of the day
  14. When a pet falls asleep on your lap
  15. Showing gratitude to someone
  16. Finding a new song you love
  17. Running into an old friend unexpectedly
  18. Stargazing
  19. Hitting every green light on a journey
  20. Taking off your bra after a long day
  21. Trying something new
  22. Second chances
  23. Booking annual leave off from work
  24. Waking up on a 'good hair day'
  25. Waking up on a 'good skin day'

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