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Vitamin Water Sync: Free MP3s and Economics

July 23, 2009 | 3 Minute Read

vitamin water sync

I’ve become kind of a Vitamin Water fan. Not because I think it’s actually healthy or anything (the second most common “vitamin” (ingredient) is sugar), but because I like the taste. I’ve actually been drinking the stuff for like a year now. Anyway, I recently noticed (like a month ago) that there was a new flavor available called “Sync.” The cool thing about this flavor is that it includes a code on the cap that you can redeem at AmazonMP3 (for some reason it says the music comes from MySpace) for a free song. By “a free song,” they really mean $1.29 of credit, since some songs cost that much, but others actually cost less.

Because of this added value of this flavor (the other ones don’t have free songs), I’ve been kind of loading up on Sync. This also leads me to a semi-interesting economics problem. If I regularly bought MP3s from, I’d be doing myself a favor by getting $1.29 worth of “music” for ~$1, along with a free sugary, sorta-vitamin-y drink. This price difference was even greater when I went to Kroger and got 10 Vitamins-Water for $5! But I don’t regularly buy music online. If I like an artist and want to support him/her/them, I’ll buy a CD, because then at least I have a physical representation of something that I can “own.” Not just bits. But what about Sync versus other flavors? While I like the other flavors (and variety is good), I’ve kind of been giving Sync an 8:2 split. So for every ten Vitamin Waters I get, about eight of them are Sync. I mean, I like to have some kind of variety! The Sync flavor is actually pretty good, too. It’s probably just about equal with any other Vitamin Water flavor.

One positive about the whole free music thing is that I’ve actually bought a lot of music. Here’s what I’ve gotten thanks to glacéau:

I basically got a bunch of Ingrid Michaelson singles, a ska song I liked that I didn’t have on my computer and a Jonathan Coulton “best of” album. All artists who I like and want to support. I mean, Jonathan Coulton kinda offers all of his music free anyway, so I saw this AmazonMP3 thing as a good way to send him some money (I also went to one of his concerts, which I assume helped support him (or maybe TicketMaster just pocketed it all!!!)).

Sadly, my free ride is nearing its end. The last time I went to Kroger, I bought some more Sync. When I got home and drank one, I realized the caps had changed. No more free songs! The wording on the bottle even changed to reflect the fact that there’s no song in there. I assumed the flavor would have free songs forever, but apparently not. I’ll keep an eye out for the bottles with songs, but I fear they will eventually dry out. Pun intended.

The last economics question for this blog post: If Vitamin Water presents an extra incentive with the drink, then removes that incentive later, does it hurt its sales? I used to buy the drink because I liked it. I may have replaced the reason for buying it with free songs. Now that there are no more free songs, will I continue to buy? Or will I feel robbed because I am now paying the same amount for less?