Promotional free items such as demo versions, samples, or novelty items offered to visitors are utilized by many businesses to attract new customers. Another common reason for such freebies is to generate interest, and therefore demand, for an upcoming product release. Improving the relationship with faithful customers and establishing trust are critical both for repeat business business, but also to generate free exposure for the business via word-of-mouth advertising.
While some businesses are willing to give away their freebies for nothing in return, the smart ones will request prospects for contact information (such as name and email address if it is a web site), alternatively requesting permission to subscribe the avatar to an in-world mailing list or add them to a group for the purpose of receiving future promotional material. In some cases the so-called freebies are not available unless the avatar pays a nominal fee in exchange which entitles them to receiving items sent to the avatar on a regular basis. In these cases while the items received are not truly free the avatar ends up paying less overall in comparison to purchasing those items individually.
Avatars are encouraged to “shop around” when freebies are made available as some dishonest businesses will simply find a copyable and transferable free object in a hangout area then turn around and promote it to their own customers. Fortunately, with a quick search of the internet and reviews on forums these types of businesses are discovered very quickly and their customer base will quickly distrust them.
Some businesses will place restrictions on the freebies they distribute either through technical means (such as configuring the object to be no-modify or non-transferable) or by including a TOS (Terms of Service) notecard with the free item. However, this is a balancing act because if similar businesses are offering their freebies on more flexible terms those that are restrictive may loose market share. Another consideration is some avatars are simply out to collect every freebie they can find even if they never use it. They may never intend on reading the TOS nor visit the landmark included with the freebie, but for some businesses that is acceptable because if even a small portion of the freebie collectors later do decide to revisit the business to purchase something then it will have paid off in the long run.