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  • Mal McCallion

Purple popularity?

Does giving things away for free make you popular?


If I was to stand outside a newsagent – let’s say WHSmith – and start gifting sweets to those who were about to buy them from inside, would the fact that I had been able to give away thousands of bags allow me the title of 'most popular sweet agent’?


Could I call the recipients ‘customers’?


Thing is, once they get them home and try them, they'll actually find the sweets are some gunk that I rustled up from rice, flour and eggs because I don’t really know how to make sugary treats. So they didn’t really get what they wanted in the end – but I managed to deliver good headline KPIs on volume and quality before people realised.


Essentially this is precisely Purplebricks’ eye-widening claim this week, to be the ‘most popular’ estate agent brand in the country. Because by giving stuff away for free – listings – they’ve managed to get the highest number of people to try them out. This is not difficult. It’s actually really, really easy – giving something away for free will make a lot of people give it a go. Whether they like it, once they realise that it’s not what they thought it was, is another matter.


Which is where our marketing tale gets even more shameless. Because this version of PB is also claiming to have more 5* Trustpilot Reviews than anyone else. And claiming 300,000+ homes sold – plus £73.5Bn worth of properties.


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It’s worth recalling that, less than a year ago (2nd June 2023), Strike bought Purplebricks for £1. This rotting husk of an organisation had gorged £197m of investor cash to subsidise the cost of selling a home to £999 – and then had to give up, because it could find no way of making any money AT ALL charging that low amount.


So this latest version of Purplebricks – which is essentially Strike with an indigo hue – is crediting itself with these reviews and property sales as if they relate to anything at all that they’ve done. And pushing these numbers – plus, of course, the volume of listings gifted away as ‘popularity’ – on unsuspecting members of the public.


Structurally incontinent, ethically atrocious, mathematically incoherent and presentationally desperate. Whilst zombie Purplebricks 2.0 flings freebies around to make friends, and digs up decade-old stats to seem significant, it’s important to educate potential vendors and landlords of this unarguable stat:


£0 - the extra earned by Purplebricks for getting the best price for your property.


The rest is just death-rattle noise.

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