dohught pink dohught green dohught yellow

Why we hate the word 'freebie'

Why we hate the word ‘freebie’

Now I am certainly not one to rant, however…

For context, a large chunk of what the Relish team does, is execute sampling campaigns – this involves partnering sampling brands with complimentary retailers.  The retailers despatch the samples to their own customer base on behalf of the advertiser.  Because of this, we often get asked by different types of stakeholders if we have any ‘freebies’ that they could have, this has led to my desire to articulate the difference between a 'freebie' and a ‘gift with purchase’ – we think there’s a big difference.

With regards to advertisers placing their product samples into customer orders, samples are anything but ‘freebies’.  So much resource, planning and accountability is involved in product sampling, that freebie seems to devalue the entire partnership and imply there was no cost associated in the arrangement is why the word freebie can sometimes, on occasion, ever so slightly offend us and our partners!


Freebie = something for free and sounds quite disposable and implies it is very simple to obtain and no resource required.  However, we have to consider: brand impact, cost of product, liability insurances, media costs, wages and quality control measures which makes sampling is fantastic added value for consumers though anything but free!  Of course the samples are disposable, but we want them to be engaged with first – properly smelt, touched, tasted (don’t do that with shampoo samples though) a freebie sounds like something you use out of disregard, perhaps lob in a cupboard or a gym bag and don’t think of again.

Gift with purchase (GWP) = on the other hand, this terminology conveys an additional treat received after placing an order.  A customer does not know they will be receiving a GWP, which makes their experience more of a – queue buzz words – surprise and delight.  We feel this is different to “sample surfing” which appeals to those who maybe have a low intention to purchase and generally look for their next opportunity (to put it bluntly) to avoid paying for something (and who would blame them), for example I can’t remember the last time I bought a nail varnish at full price as there is always one being sent out with magazine!

By treating samples as a gift, the consumer feels more pampered and valued, subsequently these perceptions are passed on to the sample product itself. Obviously this only works if you are executing the absolutely most relevant partnerships.  A sample of a stock cube will feel more like a GWP if it is received alongside a recipe box or a new casserole dish and less like a random mistake, which it probably would, if it was received alongside something like a brand new pair of Nike Air Max.

So our advice to retailers or indeed colleagues – if you are in the market for some samples, please don’t ask for freebies – we don’t have any 😊