Frame your product as the ‘gift’ in a bundle
Frame a product as the ‘free gift’ in a bundle instead of the main product (e.g. “Buy softener and get Ariel detergent [primary product] free”). Sales were up to 78% higher in a series of experiments.
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You could formulate either of these two promotions for someone looking for a fitness tracker:
Buy a fitness tracker (value $29) and get a weighing scale free (value $29)
Buy a weighing scale (value $29) and get a fitness tracker free (value $29)
They’re the same offer, framed differently.
But one makes you more likely to buy than the other.
P.S.: Thinking of which products you can offer as free gifts in promotions? Don’t discard the idea of simply giving them away with no strings attached to boost word of mouth.
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Reframe free gift bundles to make the target product ‘free’
Impacted metrics: Customer acquisition
Channels: Promotions | Product recommendations
Research date: October 2021
In ‘Buy X, Get Y free’ promotions, frame the customer’s target product as the free gift in the bundle - instead of describing the secondary product as the free gift.
The target product can be what the customer searched for (e.g. “Face mask” on Amazon) or products that you know are bestsellers and popular.
For example, if a customer searches for “Dove shampoo”, show an offer of “Buy a conditioner and get a free Dove shampoo” (rather than “Buy a Dove shampoo and get a free conditioner).
People will be more likely to buy.
People are more likely to buy free gift bundle promotions when the target product (i.e. the product a buyer is looking for or likely desires) is framed as the free gift of a bundle, rather than the other way around (a secondary product being the free gift).
For example, as part of six experiments:
A souvenir store next to a Chinese university sold 78% more ‘university notebook [target product] + knit cap for ¥12’ bundles when the notebook was framed as a free gift
People rated a promotion 19.6% more attractive when the main product (either a flash drive or headphones) was framed as a free gift
The effect weakens if:
The bundle promotion is a discount rather than a free gift.
It’s obvious to customers that they’re being targeted by algorithms for their target product
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🧠 Why it works
We don’t expect to find a product we’re interested in as a free gift.
So when we come across such a promotion we feel lucky.
This makes us appreciate the promotion more which makes us more likely to buy.
This study focused on bundles in which the two products were of equal or similar value. If products in a bundle are of very different values (e.g. buy a printer, get a free laptop) people may become suspicious of the promotion or product quality.
The effect relies in large part on the fact that this type of bundling is unexpected, which makes people feel lucky to come across it. If it becomes a common tactic, this positive effect will likely fade.
🏢 Companies using this
A few companies occasionally use this tactic - although it remains rare.
For example, on Black Friday in 2020 Clinique offered bestsellers as free gifts if people spent a similar amount on other products.
⚡ Steps to implement
If you know people are searching for something (e.g. a specific mattress) target them with an offer in which that product is a free gift (e.g. “Buy a bed frame and get the mattress free”). This way, you upsell an additional product in the sale or make the purchase more attractive.
Play around with free gift bundles of your best-selling products to see which formula is most effective (e.g. “Buy Y and get [popular product X] free”).
You can attempt to increase the effect by including messaging that makes customers feel lucky (e.g. “It’s your lucky day!”).
🔍 Study type
Lab and online experiments and a field experiment (in a souvenir store next to a university campus). China and United States
Liu, M. W., Wei, C., Yang, L., & Keh, H. T. (October 2021). Feeling Lucky: How Framing the Target Product as a Free Gift Enhances Purchase Intention. International Journal of Research in Marketing.
Tsinghua University, Nanjing Agricultural University, and Monash University, China and Australia
Remember: This is a new scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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