An investigation of the effectiveness of uncertainty in marketing promotions involving free gifts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


The authors provide a framework to predict when uncertainty will have a beneficial or detrimental impact on marketing promotions involving free gifts. Whereas uncertainty (i.e., not knowing which free gift will be offered) decreases purchase likelihood when the decision is cognitive, it increases purchase likelihood when the decision is affective. Using field and laboratory studies, the authors demonstrate that when the decision involves affect, people like to be surprised and appreciate uncertainty in the purchase process. When the decision is cognitive, consumers appreciate having information about the product offer. This research has both theoretical implications for research on affect and uncertainty and practical implications for marketing managers designing and implementing promotional campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-123
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013



  • Affect
  • Free gift
  • Promotions
  • Surprise
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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