What Some People Will Do For Free Pancakes February 5, 2009

Written by: Christy Wise
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In a recent staff meeting our company President, Terry Dry, posed an interesting question – would you wait in line for over an hour for $6.00 in cash? I’m sure there are those of us who would say “yes,” but I will take a guess that the majority of people would not.

And yet 2 million people flocked to Denny’s to get a free Grand Slam breakfast this Tuesday after the Super Bowl – a value of $5.99 on any other day.

It got me thinking – is it all psychological? Consumers (especially in our current economy) get some level of satisfaction in getting what they perceive is a great deal – no matter the value of their time, or cost in gas money to get there. Everywhere you look some brand or another is giving away free products (Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A) as part of one promotional offer or another, and customers are willing to wait for hours if necessary to get the free coffee or donut.

Maybe we think the brands owe us something, or maybe we think we are secretly “sticking it to ‘em” – but is it really worth it? What’s really apparent is how much brands mark up their actual product – keep in mind it only cost Denny’s $1 per breakfast (2 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 sausage links and 2 pieces of bacon for $1?).

Second best to free is of course the discount. I like to think of myself as a promotional code connoisseur. I do no online shopping before visiting RetailMeNot.com – a coupon deal resource/community. But yet I’m so caught up in getting the discount that I don’t spend my time actually shopping around for the better deal in the first place. A little jolt of excitement comes over me when I see that shopping cart price adjust itself to minus $5, but if I did a bit more research I’m fairly certain I could find that same product $5 cheaper somewhere else.

I think that I, along with many other shoppers, feel truly accomplished when we’ve eaten that free breakfast or gotten that deal on a pair of Joe’s Jeans – it’s the thrill of the chase. Sure you spent the rest of the day with heart burn, but at least you didn’t pay for it.

It will be interesting to see how far brands take it this year – maybe I’ll finally get that free house I’ve always wanted.