Exploring Consumer Evaluation of Free Service Trial Offers

This paper explores how consumers evaluate free service trial offers, which is when firms provide a service without charge to the consumers. Recent studies in marketing have pointed out that trialling a product or a service for free generates a direct experience for consumers to learn about the product and hence it reduces consumers’ risks in a purchase. While research has focused on trial-to-purchase aspects, it is still unclear as to what occurs in pre-trial decision making. Based on 13 in-depth interviews the study identifies three salient factors that influence free trial offer evaluations. Perceived obligation emerged as the primary evaluation factor that distinguishes free trial offer evaluations from product sample evaluations, especially in situations of service co-production. The richness of the data obtained provides additional themes surrounding the evaluation, such as coping strategies and genuine free trial offers. Managerial implications and areas for future research are provided.


Krongjit Laochumnanvanit, David Bednall, and Harmen Oppewal (2006) ,"Exploring Consumer Evaluation of Free Service Trial Offers", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7, eds. Margaret Craig Lees, Teresa Davis, and Gary Gregory, Sydney, Australia : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 362-364.


Krongjit Laochumnanvanit, Chant Link & Associates
David Bednall, Deakin University
Harmen Oppewal, Monash University


AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7 | 2006

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