Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Free Gifts! Why do we never say no?

Have you ever walked into a store knowing exactly what you want yet leave spending more than intended? This is exactly what happens to me all the time. One day I entered a beauty store knowing exactly what product I wanted to buy, from exactly which brand and exactly how much this would cost. However, I was unable to find this particular product and asked a store assistant for help who informed me the product was out of stock in the brand I wanted. However, she then went on to show me the product in a more expensive brand that I would have never normally bought if it wasn’t for the next thing she told me. The store assistant continued to tell me that although this product cost more I would receive a free gift for spending that much money from this particular brand. This instantly made me pick up the product, pick up my free gift and thank the assistant for her help before heading off to pay. Yet, I didn’t actually need the free gift nor have I ever used it to this day!

This is a clear example of the that’s-not-all technique.  This technique involves offering a high price for a product but then improving the deal by either lowering the price or adding additional products into the deal in order to increase compliance. This technique clearly worked on me in the store as the second the additional products were added into the deal, I didn’t think twice about spending the high amount.

Burger (1986) demonstrated the effectiveness of the that’s-not-all technique. The procedure consists of offering a product at a high price, not allowing the customer to respond for a few seconds, then offering a better deal by adding another product. The study took part in a Psychology club bake sale, where two tables were set up selling cupcakes, each with two experimenters sat behind them, but did not display any prices. In the that’s-not-all condition, when subjects approached the table they were told that the cupcakes were 75 cents each. At this moment, the second experimenter would say ‘wait a minute’ and without letting the customer reply, would announce that the price also included two medium size cookies. Subjects in the control condition were shown the two cookies as soon as they asked for the price of the cupcake and were told that the total price is 75 cents for the cookies and the cupcake.

Burger (1968) found that 73% of subjects in the that’s-not-all condition purchased the products compared to only 40% in the control condition. These results provide support for the effectiveness of the that’s not all technique in increasing sales. By presenting a product at a high price but then adding additional products into this price it appears to be a better deal to the customer. This explains why I ended up with a more expensive product than I wouldn’t normally buy all because a useless free gift that I have never used was included into the high price deal.


Burger, J. M. (1986). Increasing compliance by improving the deal: The that’s-not-all technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51.2, 277-283. 

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