Slurpees may be free today, but customers will likely spend extra dollars at the store while they stop in to get their free treat.
Today, as 7-Eleven celebrates its unofficial 84th birthday, it expects to give away five million 7.11-ounce Slurpees—roughly 1,000 free Slurpees per store.
But those free Slurpees actually result in big sales for 7-Eleven stores. When the chain handed out 4.5 million Slurpee’s last July 11, Slurpee sales for the day increased 38%, Nancy Smith, vice president of marketing told USA Today.
Customers actually opted to buy full-size Slurpees, even though they had the option of taking as many free 7.11-ounce samples as they wished. “You get a taste of it,” said Laura Gordon, Slurpee senior brand director, “and you choose to have more.”
Even as the word “free” drives shoppers to 7-Eleven today, they may end up spending more just to justify walking into the store—from impulse buys to extra dollars on gasoline—just for a free Slurpee with an estimated $1 retail value.
“Slurpee drinkers are some of the most loyal fans we have,” Smith told USA Today. “They come here to have fun.” And once they’re in the store, Smith said, many buy other products as well.
USA Today noted that customers usually chase after and typically spend more to get a freebie regardless of who is offering the promotion. “Free is magic,” said Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore College. “If you offer something for free, people will gladly spend money to get it.”