FREE attracts, but it doesn’t retain

small portion.expensive.organic.valuable.workhard.needmore.eatless.feelgood.saynotofoodwaste.We are like guinea pigs who have been trained to jump on all offers that spell out in BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS the word – FREE!!!

Don’t believe me? Next time you see those words, whether for free courses, free drinks, free food, free trials, or anything else, see if you agree to click on a link, attend an event or sign up for an offer. If so, don’t worry, it’s all part of the priming phenomenon telling you that you have something to gain, and nothing to lose, so why not go for it. This is true even if you don’t need any of the free products.

But here’s the catch. While these FREE offers will attract people to your cause, unless your product or service seems valuable, all these crowds won’t stick around for long.

Yesterday I was at a pool party. Sitting around the table, talking, laughing and having fun, we began discussing the price of food and how eating healthy or organic leaves a big dent on our wallet. A friend, who usually shops at Giant, mentioned that he once gave Whole Foods a try. Having bought half the items he usually did, and paid over $300 dollars, every time he would open the fridge he was reminded that the produce in front of him came at a ridiculous price and he made an effort to make them last longer.

pew.cost.food.income.disposable.value.appreciate.expensive.organic.sustainable.happy.saynotofoodwasteA new PEW Chart indicates that Americans are very lucky to be spending only a small fraction of their income on produce. Of course, this varies depending on your salary. Nonetheless, in recent years we have more calories to indulge on, and with all these Buy One Get One Free deals, we feel we are missing out if we don’t take advantage of them. Sadly, it makes us appreciate this food a bit less and feel less sorry if some of it gets wasted or thrown away.

This is completely different for those who spent an evening in a very expensive and luxurious restaurant, where a small appetizer could cost almost $20 dollars. Yes, maybe we are also paying for the plate design and atmosphere, but the actual meal isn’t worth that much. Still, we accept the cost, eat slower, indulge longer, and somehow value the food more. And since it takes us about 20 minutes to realize that we are full, all that slow eating even helps us feel full.

work hard.appreciate.food.sustainable.good.happy.easy.saynotofoodwaste.organic.expensive.betterThe slow and conscious culture of eating is the complete opposite of the ‘fast-food’ culture we see all around us. But if we truly want to value something, whether food, work, relationships or anything else, we know that the harder we work for something the more valuable it seems, as was shown in a study by John Hopkins University.

So that saying “easy come, easy go” is very true. And if you don’t believe me, why not conduct an experiment? Gather some friends and go to a fast-food joint. A day later, find a highly rated and expensive restaurant, and see whether paying more for your food makes you more appreciative of it.

In the case of my friend, his trip to Whole Foods was the unintentional experiment he needed. How about you, do you appreciate your food?

With lots of love,
Hokuma

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