This goes back to those times when I used to buy a pack of Cheetos just for the "free" tazos! And I am pretty sure quite many of us did the same as kids. Or maybe buy a bubble gum for a free tattoo which despite the pathetic designs, you'd vigorously rub on the back of the palm to ensure it lasts long. Then 2-3 days later it would turn all black and shabby. Whatever it be, free gifts have been a major reason we have bought many products from the market.
Women are known as shopaholics, buying stuff they remotely wouldn't need in the future. Yet they do! Even I do. Why? Because we fall prey to the "free" or "discount" or "sale" - the words which catch a glimpse and make us go on second thoughts. "I think I should buy it. I won't get such an offer later." That greed of an excellent bargain gives a huge temporary importance to something small.
I would often assume I was not one of those dumb girls buying anything and everything! But as I came across marketing techniques, I realized, I was already behaving like a padhi-likhi gawar! And adding to my fantasy is my mum, equally pushy towards buying new items. All in all, the word "free" is like a vada pav of the roadside stall. It looks like the tastiest thing in the world despite it's flaws.
Getting back to "free". Let's take the simple example of the Cheetos pack. On the detailed level, manufacturing that one tazo would have perhaps costed Fritolay less than 10 paise. But we as kids bought them for 10 bucks, 100 times the cost of the original. Let's say I ask my mum to buy me a pack of tazos, 10 tazos for 5 rupees, it'd still be cheaper! But no! We want the "joy" of adding each to the collection. Phew! Stupidity, stupidity, stupidity.
Effectively, the free item gets overvalued! And its essential purpose gets lost midway.
How brilliant a marketing technique for the PR persons. Considering recent publicity stints, even newspapers have not been spared of the advertising concept. Generally a paper can at max have a featured advertisement of a particular product. A shampoo sachet stuck along with the front page of the newspaper - I never thought of advertising it that way! Innovation - when Volkswagen had a sensor attached to the paper, when you open the paper, you'd hear a car zoom in full speed and the newspaper would vibrate. Realistic feeling everywhere.
Taglines. Another strategy to keep the word of mouth alive. Let me share this experience with you. As a standard 10th student, a guest lecturer from the advertising field was invited to share her experience of the vastness and the scope of a career in advertising. She mentions the word "Thanda". We, the zesty crowd reply, "matlab Coca-cola". Her next question, ever wondered why did it become so famous? Amused, we couldn't answer. She mentions, in village areas of India, a soft drink is referred to as thanda. Agreed, we all knew this. But when in a village you demand a thanda, what the shop keeper gives you is a local branded soft drink. The tagline "thanda matlab Coca-cola" ensured that when thanda was demanded, Coca-cola was handed. Smartness, sheer smartness I'd say!
Perhaps that's what publicizing and advertising is all about. You need to know how to sell. Not only sell products but sell yourself. Don't take it in a literal way ;) but unless you cleverly highlight your resume, you can never be sure of being a hit with the interviewing panel.
Then there are always those fake "meet this celebrity" contests which want you to keep messaging them all day. Not to mention the heavy phone bill you pay later. No gain, only pain! But these techniques are getting older and new ones are replacing them soon. Say for instance, visit-our-website has become like-our-facebook-page or download-our-android-app.
And then once we are completely surrounded by these nagging advertisements, we have the "Try us! No advertisements" set of services. Whatsapp for example, a hit completely because it has no ads guaranteed whatsoever. Ad-blocks for Google Chrome, DoNotDisturb services for mobile operators, etc etc.