Scoring free items can feel like hitting the jackpot. Whether you’re grabbing a free sample at the grocery store or staring a free trial membership at a nearby gym, it’s always exciting to get something for nothing. That’s why it’s smart for your business to consider this strategy with free promotional giveaways!

complimentary Giveaways

What are complimentary giveaways? How can you use “free” as an effective selling technique? Let’s dive right in and discuss why people love free promotional items!

When something free is thrown into the equation, people perceive the value of the free products as higher.

Dan Ariely and contributing authors, Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products

What Are Free Giveaways?

Take for example Southbound Group, a realty agency located in Tennessee. The team purchased key holders for their clients that cleverly played on the idea of storing your spare key under a rock. This kind and genuine gift was perfect for their clients and made a great addition to their new house keys. Plus, it had people thinking of Southbound Group and recommending their services to others.

Overall, this goes to show just how powerful free can be. It’s well worth following in Southbound Group’s footsteps and trying this strategy for yourself. There are many cheap promotional items and unique giveaways that you can hand out for free to your customers.

Southbound Group

Why Do Free Giveaways Work?

Free giveaways are effective because of the principle of reciprocity. Similar to the analogy, “an eye for an eye,” we give back what we receive. For example, if you went out to lunch with a friend and they grabbed the tab, chances are you’ll get the tab next time to pay them back.

The same concept works for branded giveaways. By giving away a free product to a potential customer, you hope they’ll buy something from your company in return, increasing your sales and raising brand awareness.

The evidence is in the numbers. Take a look!

Promotional Products Really Work
Promotional Products Really Work

Whether you’re a university or a non-profit organization, promotional products can benefit your marketing! They’re free items consumers love to receive.

If you want to boost your sales or reach a new market of customers, using the psychology of free is a great place to start! Let’s take a look at an example where a salon is giving away free lip balm.

Why People are Attracted to Free Giveaways
Why People are Attracted to Free Giveaways

When the consumer saw the lip balm as useful, the customer felt good about the product. However, in the other scenario, the balm didn’t work, leaving a bad impression towards the freebie. A client is more likely to purchase your products or refer you to others after they’ve had a positive experience. Keep in mind, you’ll have better results and happier clients with high-quality and useful giveaways.

Tips for Effectively Using Free Giveaways

Any business can utilize the power of free in their marketing efforts. After all, promotional products can help you network, gain referrals, build up your brand, and so much more. Follow these 5 tips to make sure you’re using your branded items effectively.

  1. 1 Customize to Match Your Industry

    Customize to Match Your Industry

    Whether you own a construction company or run a small animal clinic, there’s a giveaway to match perfectly!

  2. 2 Mug

    Use Everyday Products

    Gain more brand awareness when you hand out products that people use daily like coffee mugs or calendars.

  3. 3 Trade Business Cards for Promo Products

    Trade Business Cards for Promo Products

    Give customers something they can actually use like a trendy magnet or stylish pen.

  4. 4 Think Long Shelf Life

    Think Long Shelf Life

    The longer your promo products last, the more consumers will see your brand and logo.

  5. 5 Make a Connection

    Make a Connection

    Strong customer relationships are important for any business, and free giveaways are a great way to spark this bond.

No matter which way you slice it, free giveaways can boost your marketing! Consumers will love them, and you’ll increase your sales.

A free product involves a small certain win because there’s no risk, especially in cases when you’re exposed to products for the first time.

Julia Müller, Bachelors Thesis for Erasmus University Rotterdam

A Case Study: Do People Prefer Free Breakfast Over a Discount?

The value of zero has been questioned by theorists since 450 B.C.! When it comes to your marketing efforts, though, zero can be pretty powerful.

Need proof? Take a look at how a free breakfast experiment created more business for a travel agent.

Free Breakfast Case Study
Free Breakfast Case Study

By using “free,” the travel agent was able to gain new clients and more business. Even though both discounts had the same monetary value, participants saw the free breakfast as more beneficial because the offer was tangible, and therefore, much more satisfying and rewarding.

Why Do People Sometimes Question Free Stuff?

People question free items because they’re perceived as having no value or being of low-quality. Although we love receiving free things, if we haven’t done anything to earn the freebie, we find it hard to believe it costs nothing.

Why Do People Sometimes Question Free Stuff?

For example, if you see a couch on the side of the road labeled “FREE,” your first thought is, “why would someone give away a perfectly good couch for nothing in return?” Your second thought might be, “well, there must be something wrong with it.” Whenever something of high value like a sofa is priced at zero, its overall quality is tarnished. The next time you come across something that’s free, check it out first. You’ve got nothing to lose!

What You Should Know Before You Buy Promotional Giveaways

Heart Stress Relievers

Branded products are a great way to raise brand awareness, boost sales, and gain loyal customers. However, to ensure they’re effective there are a few characteristics to keep in mind.



Promo items should always be useful to your customers. After all, you want your giveaways to be used again and again so more people can see your brand!

Good Quality

Good Quality

Low-quality freebies can tarnish your brand image. Even if you’re on a budget, you can find excellent products.



Your promo items should give your customers an idea of what your business has to offer. Throwing a sporting event? Try rally towels or Frisbees.

Promotional products that are beneficial to customers and will last a long time are sure to win people over! From stress balls to pens, you can’t go wrong with a giveaway that’s valuable and convenient.

The Bottom Line

Whether it’s a tote bag or umbrella, people love getting stuff for free! Next time you’re looking for a marketing boost, try giving away a complimentary product to your customers. You’ll be surprised to see how this small gesture can bring in more happy clients.


Alton, L. (2016, April 18). The Value of Free: How Businesses Benefit from Giving Stuff Away. Retrieved from

Budiu, R. (2014, February 16). The Reciprocity Principle: Give Before You Take in Web Design. Retrieved from

Central, A. (2019, January 08). 2019 Ad Impressions Study. Retrieved from

Everett, H. (2019, February 11). The Psychology of Free: Does Giving Free Samples Increase Sales? Retrieved from

Hawlk, K. (2017, June 21). The Science of Free Samples: How Freebies Can Keep Customers Coming Back For More – In-person Selling and Pop-Up Shops. Retrieved from

Müller, J. (n.d.). The Power of Free(Unpublished master’s thesis). Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Nicolau, J. L., & Sellers, R. (2012). The Free Breakfast Effect: An Experimental Approach to the Zero Price Model in Tourism. Journal of Travel Research, 51(3), 243-249. Retrieved from

Powers, M. (2018, May 14). Why are People Attracted to Giveaways – The Science of FREE. Retrieved from

White, M. C. (2013, June 24). 5 Ways Companies Win by Giving Stuff Away. Retrieved from

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