Companies often feel weary and even resistant to shell out free products and services in fear of inventory loss, associated costs and the negative connotation that sampling carries; having no tangible, added value. What companies fail to realize is that the customer’s willingness (or lack thereof) to further invest in the brand is contingent upon their experience with the product/service itself. If the hardest part in selling is physically getting the customer to try your product, why not expedite the process by putting the product in their hands?
Companies should take notes from successful big player brands like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever who are paying supermarkets for booth space in efforts to scale out as many giveaways for new product launches. Sampling is a simple and relatively cost-effective strategy in a world where advertising budgets exceed six figure digits. Consider companies like Birchbox, Nina Garcia’s Quarterly Box, and Allure Magazine’s Beauty Box exposing consumer products in small trial-size dosages to appease risk-adverse and skeptical customers. And if there’s an app for it, you know it’s on the brink of something. Pinchme and SampleApp give any user the opportunity to test trial products for free and purchase those they deem worthy. These business models work in successfully guiding customers into new, diehard and bespoke products they may have overlooked based on price point or weak brand exposure. If people live by experience, then letting them experience your product on their own terms is one step closer then two-steps back.
Sampling is rooted in striving to transform an individual into a loyal and avid customer. In order to extract profits from samplers, one must identify why that particular product is being sampled (i.e. a company’s best seller, a new product launch or an undervalued product in dire need of exposure). Once the rational behind a sample is made, an execution strategy consistent with the brand’s business model follows. Ultimately, sampling may be the deal-breaker for your product’s survival, especially if it’s very core competencies are physical and sensor-based. Remember, sometimes it’s just as simple as “Try it before you buy it.”