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2/27/2008
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Hey Smaller Businesses, Why Not Try Some Free Love?

Everyone, it seems, is getting into the "free" act. Apparently, it's a real trend -- and not just among the big guys. Smaller businesses can get a piece of the "free" action, too.

Everyone, it seems, is getting into the "free" act. Apparently, it's a real trend -- and not just among the big guys. Smaller businesses can get a piece of the "free" action, too.The Amsterdam-based TrendWatching.com, which tracks consumer trends, has devoted its March newsletter to free-business concepts.

From the intro: "This month, we'll be looking at FREE LOVE, which is all about the ongoing rise of 'free stuff', and the brands already making the most it. Not to mention the millions of consumers who are happily getting into a free-for-all mindset."

According to TW, the rise of "Free Love" can be attributed to a number of things, some of which smaller businesses need to be aware of. Chief among those are the "war for consumers' attention", the online world's "amazing capacity to create, copy and distribute anything that's digital, with costs that are close to zero, forcing producers to come up with new business models/services, which are often purely ad-driven", and, very significantly, "consumers' expectations to get online and offline stuff for free."

The newsletter runs through how consumers can get free stuff -- which is good for everybody -- but for smaller businesses the meat is in the second section where the discussion turns to getting consumers' attention.

As is the site's way, it feels the need to dub what it defines as trends and while the monikers can be, well, interesting, they are often self explanatory. To wit, its list of "FREE LOVE subtrends-cum-courting-techniques":

  • Tryvertising and Trysumers
  • Brand Butlers
  • Acce$$
  • Premiumization
  • Cunning Cartridges

For example Tryvertising is described as "a new breed of product placement in the real world, integrating your goods and services into daily life in a relevant way, so that consumers can make up their minds, for free, based on their experience, not your messages."

Many of the examples are based on larger companies but there's no reason smaller businesses can't do this on a smaller scale. Similarly, Premiumization is described as "an excellent way to entice one's audience to buy a premium / more extensive product if they truly like the free version." As TW notes: "And yes, this is of course part of trendwatching.com's strategy, too: our monthly Trend Briefing, like the one you're reading now, is free, but our extensive annual Trend Report, in PowerPoint format, is not ;-)"

Are you feeling the free love yet? Tell us how.

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