The psychology of free

Quest freebie

Quest freebie

I attended a lovely lunch demo of Foglight by Quest Software earlier this week. As I was leaving and handing in my evaluation, I received a branded USB flash drive, the current hot freebie item. My first thought – “how big is it?” It was soon revealed to be 512MB. Only 512 MB?? Really?? I had to kick myself at that point for even thinking that.

I recall being thrilled not that many years ago to get my hands on a 32MB flash drive. Now that was amazing. I like getting free stuff. Do I use the free stuff I get? Rarely. I’m accumulating a fair collection of flash drives and I’ve actually used one of them recently, but it was a 1GB drive from VMWare. Clocks, compasses, carabiners, stress balls, all collect dust as we trot from one vendor demo to another.

Getting something for free appeals to our sense of value. But does it influence your decision-making the way the vendors hope it does? Probably more than we’re conscious of.

What kind of gadgets do you like to get for free?