Are free samples an effective marketing strategy?
Free samples! Can there be two sweeter words in the English language?
Grocery stores like sample giveaways because they distract the kids and get shoppers worked up about getting something for nothing. Consumers have come to expect being flagged by strangers in hairnets. After all, it’s free and, who knows, it might even be edible.
As for the companies supplying the goods? They’re looking for traction, so much so that they’re happy to pay stores a couple hundred bucks a day for the right to sprinkle those cheese squares around.
"Some stores can't afford not to give out samples," says supermarket analyst David Livingston. "It's something the customer has come to expect."
According to a study from the W.P. Carey School of Business, however, these sampling programs are pretty effective: A research team found that when consumers are given food samples, they tend to seek out more food afterward. The phenomenon is called "reverse alliesthesia."
Trouble is, you're never quite sure if you're about to bite into a tasty offering cooked up by a local vendor or getting traif that's approaching its expiration date.
Still, the chances are good that eventually you will become wedded to the product and become loyal to the brand. In one study of toothpaste sampling, researchers found that consumers who received free samples of toothpaste in a newspaper circular were more likely to use that particular brand.
Why does this work? Because you're polite, says psychologist Susan Whirbourne: You've been given something, seemingly for nothing, and now you feel obligated to reciprocate by buying the item.
Are you a sampler? Do you think those snacks influence your subsequent purchases?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
Posted by: Koajk | Nov 25, 2021 10:27:17 AM
'Cause we're polite we buy it? Really? How about: "Gee, that tasted good, plus they have a $1 off coupon. I'll buy one."
Posted by: David | Nov 25, 2021 5:21:45 PM
I have, on more than one occasion, purchased a product after being given a free sample because I felt some kind of obligation. I do usually like the product, but wouldn't have bought it if not for the sense of obligation that I felt. Perhaps it's dumb, but it does happen.
It's particularly tough when the person handing out the free samples is friendly :).
Posted by: karra | Nov 28, 2021 4:40:41 PM
I feel under no obligation whatsoever. If they're offering something for free, I'll try it if it appeals to me at all. I'll buy it if it tastes good, is reasonably priced and fits in with my overall budget and healthy living plan. I will thank the person though (except for the time I spat out a sample in disgust at the unadvertised garlic content and desperately asked for water so I could get the taste out of my mouth).
If a charity sends me free Christmas cards etc I'll take them and use them if they're nice. However, I will go on-line and make donations only to the charities I have chosen to support beforehand (also I have monthly donations arranged for a few).
If you offer me something free and submit me to a high pressure sale pitch, I will never, ever, ever, buy on principle.