“What’s this for?” … when freebies are most appreciated

Marketers know that giveaways go a long way.

In a paper published in The Journal of Consumer Research, researchers show that reactions vary widely across cultures to this kind of surprise.

Specifically, American-born consumers tended to be more pleased by unexpected freebies than were consumers in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In one experiment, consumers from each region were equally pleased when presented with a free coffee drink that they had been told to expect.

But when the drink came unexpectedly, the Westerners were more delighted.

In other experiments, Asians tended to react better to gifts that were framed as the product of luck — the lucky ticket, say, fished out of a jar.

Westerners reacted better to gifts that were ostensibly rewards for something they did.

“In Western cultures, marketers should say something like, ‘We want to thank you for your patronage and loyalty, and that is why we are giving you this gift,’ ”

 Excerpted from NYT: Where Giveaways Are Valued Most,  July 26, 2009 

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