How Free is FREE?

55 Months Instalment Interest Free - With Equal Payments

Harvey Norman are a huge fan of free.  But, in some cases not even what you want in the normal sense of free, Interest Free?  So why do we even care?  How come this gets us excited to buy a product from them?

People are making a lot of money charging nothing. Not nothing for everything, but nothing for enough that we have essentially created an economy as big as a good‑sized country around the price of $0.00. Chris Anderson Author of Free: The Future of a Radical Price (Sheehan, Brian. 2011)

If free is making so much money for businesses, why do customers keep going back.  Perhaps it’s not possible for us to refuse free.  It doesn’t matter if the mathematical equation isn’t any better through one supplier or another, by Harvey Norman saying they give you something for free makes you think it’s a good deal.

Most Transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something if FREE! We forget the downside.  FREE! Gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is (Ariely, 2009)

Free is a much more powerful card than discounting, and is a widely used tool to get people to make a purchase, and allow the seller to stand out from the crowd.

There are many different ways in marketing, for free to exist.  Perhaps it’s an upgrade to an airline ticket, or getting a second product free with the purchase of the first product.  Maybe you get free shipping, or a free service.

Harvey norman even offer “free email updates”.  I’m not sure anyone charges for email updates, but the idea of selling free is very powerful and emotive. If you want free email, you can sign up below:

“The objective of value pricing, is to uncover the right blend of product, quality, product costs, and product prices that fully satisfies the needs and wants of consumers and the profit targets of the firm” (Keller, Kevin. Strategic Brand Management, 2008).  Harvey Norman are not known for their cheap prices, and they try to control their brand equity.  “For some products and services, higher prices can make a purchase seem more appealing” (Iacobucci. MM4, 2013).

One way to understand just how strongly Harvey Norman promote free, is to go to the following link and count just  how many times the word “free” appears on the page.

Not even Ireland is able to get away from the free of Harvey Norman:

It would be possible to conclude from this that Harvey Norman are using these psychological behaviours to their advantage.  They are not lowering the price of their products with constant sales, huge discounts etc, thereby increasing their brand equity.  However, they are luring us in, with the value of ‘free’.  Giving the average person the ability to buy the sought after expensive premium product, while also getting something for free, which is just too good to refuse.

So tell me, are you a victim of free?  Have you succumbed to the powerful nature of free, and purchased something you didn’t really want or need, or couldn’t afford.  Perhaps free isn’t as good a deal as we think it is.

Author: Andrew Ryan (acry78) 10/5/16




  1. Sheehan, Brian. Basics Marketing 03 : Marketing Management : Marketing Management. Worthing, West Sussex, GBR: AVA Publishing, 2011. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 2 May 2016.)
  2. Ariely, Dan. Predictably Irrational, 2009. Harper Collins Publishers.
  3. Keller, Kevin. Strategic Brand Management, 2008
  4. Iaccobucci, Dawn. MM4, 2013




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