Finances & Money Value

Free Product Can Cost You Money

free samples, free gift items, razors

Beware of anyone that wants to give you something for free.  Anytime you are offered something for free, you should analyze their motivation and look for a catch.  Something showed up in my mailbox recently with a marketing trick I hadn’t seen before.

I removed the package from my mailbox, thinking someone in the family had ordered something.  It turns out Gillette sent a free razor.    Starting to think through why this came in the mail, I made a few mental notes.

Age Targeted (Sort Of)

The package was addressed to our last name or current resident, but the packaging said “Happy 18th Birthday,” on it.  Obviously, they were targeting my son, who recently turned 18, hoping he hadn’t formed any sort of brand loyalty to another razor.  But if for some reason the person they were targeting didn’t live there anymore, they wanted to give the green light to whoever did live at the address to use the product.

Free Product, Not Really

One may wonder why Gillette would send a free razor in the mail.  Doesn’t giving away their product for free cut into their profit.  The answer is, “No.”  while the razor may sell for $10-$15, that’s not where they make the bulk of their profit.  The disposable razor blades are where they make the money.  If by sending a free razor they could get someone in our home to switch to using the product they sent, then they would make a recurring profit from the blades.

Cost Analysis

The gift of a free product may create feelings of wanting to not let the free thing go to waste.  This may cause people to use the product, and even buy more blades just to make use of it.   The smart thing to do is to compare it to what you’re using now.  My son is satisfied with his current razor, which happens to be a different brand name.  The Gillette razors are slightly more expensive.  Thus switching to the new razor would actually cost more.

The “free” razor went into the trash.  I didn’t even want to open it and try it out.  I didn’t want to be tempted to switch because both my son and I are happy with our current razors, and thus there’s no reason to incur extra expense to switch to a different product.

Thanks Gillette, but no thanks.

How about you, Clever Friends, have you ever been given a free product that would cost you MORE money if you decided to use it?

Disease Called Debt

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • So you put it in a landfill rather than give it to a neighbor or friend or donate it to a homeless shelter? That seems like an odd choice.

  • Sounds to me like you figured out their game, but instead of using it to your advantage (using the free razor and then throwing it away) you over-reacted. If, for no reason other than because I liked you, I gave you a gift that woud be used up (food,grooming product etc), would you throw my gift away because you were unable/unwilling to replace it when it was gone?

  • Of course free samples have a “secret mission” behind them! 😀

    I usually take advantage of free samples and just use them, even if for a short while.

    However, when it comes to food, I do feel awkward tasting them and then buying the generic brand right next to the lady giving away free samples 😀 So, lately I tend to say ‘no thanks’ to foods. All the other free samples though – send them over please!

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