RAZOR BRANDING BLOG: Is Free a Strategy?

Is Free a Strategy?

In May, I posted a blog called "To Be Free or To Be Premium, That is The Question". I wrote about the new book that Chris Anderson,Wired Editor-in-Chief, has written, called Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business.The blogs' main point being that a premium product can always command a premium price. You don't have to give it away.

There has been quite a bit of discussion around the book and where the business models should be heading.

Malcolm Gladwell's column in the July 6th issue of The New Yorker is titled "Priced To Sell" and reviews Anderson's book.

The article is a great read and does a very thorough job of dissecting the book and drawing the line from Anderson's theories to what is happening today with content providers - be it newspapers (NYTimes does not charge for content, Wall Street Journal has a million paid subscribers) or television (broadcast networks are struggling with only advertisers to pay the bills, yet cable networks offer specialty content at a premium price).

Now, Seth Godin has jumped into the conversation with a blog post entitled, "Malcolm Is Wrong". Godin's blog asserts that Free is where we are headed and there is nothing anyone can do about it so jump on board.

Mark Cuban has weighed into the discussion and thinks there is a big difference between "Free vs Freely Distributed".

You can take a look at the whole "Free Debate" on Squidoo and add your two cents (pun intended) to the discussion.

I am going to have to side with Malcolm Gladwell on this.

Free is not where we are headed.

Really, it seems pretty ironic that Free costs $17.81 on Amazon. Wouldn't it make more sense to support the theory of the book by giving it away as an e-book?

After reading all of the comments, and there have been plenty, I am sticking with my original point which is that a premium product can command a premium price. If you give it away, or discount it too deeply, it will lose brand equity in the hearts and minds of consumers.

But, what say you? Is the future going to be free?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

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