How Small Is Zero Price? the True Value of Free Products

How small is zero price? The true value of free products

Kristina Shampan’er, MIT

 In a series of experiments, participants choose between buying a piece of high-end chocolate, buying a piece of low-end chocolate for a smaller price, and buying nothing.  For some participants, both prices are equally reduced, so that the lower price becomes zero.  A cost-benefit model predicts that the proportions of participants choosing each of the two chocolates should weakly increase when prices are equally reduced.  In reality, whereas the proportion of participants choosing the cheaper chocolate dramatically increases, the proportion of participants choosing the more attractive chocolate dramatically decreases.  Several economic and psychological explanations for the effect are considered.


Kristina Shampan'er (2006) ,"How Small Is Zero Price? the True Value of Free Products", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 254-255.


Kristina Shampan'er, MIT


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33 | 2006

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Worse is Bad: Asymmetric Inferences on Items and Assortments From Logically Equivalent Comparisons

Yoel Inbar, University of Toronto, Canada
Ellen Evers, University of California Berkeley, USA

Read More


So-Bad-It’s-Good: When Consumers Prefer Bad Options

Evan Weingarten, University of California San Diego, USA
Amit Bhattacharjee, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Patti Williams, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read More


When Waste Costs: The Influence of Price on Consumers’ Perceived Waste and Purchase Intention of an Excessive Amount of Product

Tao Tao, Hong Kong Baptist University
Robert Wyer Jr., University of Cincinnati, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.