3 minutes

Do people not value free things?

by Julie Perkins

At Wyseminds, we’ve been offering our Lift-Off programme completely for free. You heard it right: free. Ziltch. Nada. Not because we’re crazy. But, because we want to give all women entrepreneurs the chance to have a taste of what purpose-led growth might look like for them – and, importantly, let them understand that it’s tangible, within their reach and extremely exciting. Step into Your Journey - interactive learning platform

We also want to make sure we’re the right fit; if people are going to embark on the Wyseway, they want to try before they buy and we want to make sure we’re the right experts to transform their businesses. It’s a two-way street. However, this has got me thinking about whether people don’t value free things anymore.

Is ‘reassuringly expensive’ a more powerful proposition?

In the 1980s, Belgian lager brand Stella Artois ran a campaign with the (oxymoron) tagline ‘reassuringly expensive’. The underlying message was clear: our beer may cost more, but that’s because it’s a cut above the competition. A lot of fine craftsmanship has gone into it – and so you’re essentially drinking liquid luxury. Interestingly, it’s alleged that the British advertising agent wasn’t convinced by the copywriter’s tagline initially; the public, however, went on to love it. Did Stella Artois lager actually taste far superior to competitor brands? Unlikely, I would argue. But perception certainly seemed to win over reality – and for quite a long stretch of time. The beer brand dropped the slogan in 2007 – due to associations with aggression and binge-drinking in the United Kingdom. But, that’s another story altogether!

Investing in your self-worth

If oysters, caviar and truffles are your thing, do you love them just because of the taste? I bet the cost and air of indulgence also goes a long way in fulfilling your enjoyment. It’s a treat that you deserve. You’re investing in yourself and your self-worth, essentially. If we think we are drinking a 230 euro 1977 Chateau Musar, does it taste better than the bottle you’re actually drinking that costs just 25 euros? Probably. And I am guilty of this too. I’m certainly not judging.

Reward & motivation

In 2017, INSEAD researchers conducted a study of exactly this: how much consumers’ enjoyment of wine is influenced by cost. Participants were hooked up to an MRI scanner while they tasted wine – but were given different pricing information. You guessed it: brain activity measured by the MRI scanner showed that the part of the brain associated with reward and motivation, which directly affects the taste experience, showed increased activity with higher prices.

The placebo effect

Far from greed or entitlement, there’s a reason for all this. It’s called the marketing placebo effect. The placebo phenomenon occurs when the brain expects a material outcome based on a belief and then physically manifests symptoms of that belief that don’t actually exist. According to Professor Weber, the then Acting Director of the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) at the University of Bonn: “The exciting question is now whether it is possible to train the reward system to make it less receptive to such placebo marketing effects.”

Where now?

Wyseminds Lift Off ProgrammeBack to Wyseminds, and I’ve been wondering where this leaves our Lift-Off Programme. I’ve been considering changing tack and charging for it for the first time. However, it is a gimmick. And not one that aligns with my purpose. My values are as strong as the day I founded Wyseminds and I am sticking to my guns. I want to demonstrate to female entrepreneurs that growth is simpler than you think. I prefer the tagline ‘reassuringly inexpensive’.

If you do too, then why not sign up to our webinars and see where they lead you? After all, what have you got to lose?