Product sampling is a marketing strategy of offering free product samples to target users. It is based upon the idea that when potential customers try the product free, they will be more inclined towards purchasing the same product by paying full price. Product sampling takes place when companies or brands spread the news about their product by allowing shoppers to use the product prior to buying it.
An example of product sampling would be a skincare brand that provides free product samples of its moisturizer to customers. This enables them to experience the benefits of the product before purchasing it at full price.
So, by using product sampling, you will give free product samples of your new products to your potential customers to optimize lead generation and awareness. You can utilize this strategy to let new audiences familiar with your product, develop connections and rouse loyalty with existing clients, optimize customers’ information about the products you offer, boost repeat customers, and more sales of new products. Offering free samples also helps companies acquire attention for their brand on occasion.
Table of Contents
What is Product Sampling?
Product sampling is a marketing strategy in which potential consumers can try the free samples of your product before purchasing it. It is essentially like offering free products, as a preliminary attempt to reach and delight possible shoppers and optimize brand awareness.
Consider a shampoo brand for instance. In case it gives product samples of its shampoo to potential buyers, they can see the benefits of utilizing it before putting in their cash and purchasing it. Though advertisements are quite popular, at times, the main way target audiences will believe what you’re selling is by using it themselves. A product sampling campaign permits them to do that without paying for the same.
Why is Product Sampling Important?
It is critical for different reasons such as increasing brand awareness and exposure, letting shoppers experience your product and be familiar with it, and having a desire to purchase from you.
Quite possibly the earliest challenge brands face while launching a new product is its newness and unfamiliarity to the target audience. Product sampling is an extraordinary method for curing this issue. It enables any brand to develop great testimonials from its target markets. By incorporating product samples into the financial plan, brands will get more familiar with their target market.
In addition to the fact that brands will receive a positive response, they will likewise outperform buyer expectations and gain a benefit about other players in the market. It tends to be exceptionally practical to let product sampling get added to the marketing campaign of a brand, as it can set save a good amount of money and resources in case the product is faulty or not liked by the target audiences.
What is Product Sampling Distribution?
It is a smart way for brands to realize their shoppers’ thought processes about their products. Assuming it is enjoyed, it will support more sales and order booking as well as the other way around.
Types of Product Sampling
There are two methods for sampling products available –
- The indirect product sampling strategy refers to offering free samples of a product to consumers without any physical interaction between you and the clients. This is commonly done by providing samples when the consumer buys another product.
- A direct product sampling strategy focuses on building and maintaining a relationship with your consumers by offering free samples delivered to their homes.
Types of Product Sampling Methods
Brands can use two types of product sampling to optimize their brand exposure-
1) Traditional product sampling
It works by giving customers miniature renditions of standard-size products. Brands offer such samples when buyers visit their retail stores.
This marketing method can frequently be found in stores like Costco or beauty stores. They provide customers with samples of the products they already have in stock, hoping that customers will end up purchasing more items than they had originally intended.
Placing the sampling counter in a strategic location within a store has been known to increase sales through traditional product marketing methods, though there are drawbacks to consider as well.
- Traditional product marketing allows you to distribute samples to a large number of consumers without conducting prior research. Sending samples to all recipients may not be efficient because some may not be interested in the product.
- Although this method allows for in-person interaction with your customers, once they leave your store, you have no further control over them.
- Product sampling only provides limited insights based on what is observed at that moment and recorded accurately.
- Hence, this method is not appropriate for products that require a day or a week to try and review such as shampoos or skincare products.
2) Digital product sampling
Many online brands can influence online customers to convince them to purchase by giving a free version of a product.
consumers. Digital product sampling is a contemporary adaptation of the conventional practice of product sampling, modified for current times. A digital product sampling program is effective in creating user generated content.
- Digital product sampling is a way for businesses to offer samples to customers without the need for physical distribution.
- This also lets them use social media platforms and other digital marketing channels to reach more people.
- Additionally, businesses can now track customer behavior through their interactions, thanks to technology.
- Conducting research, creating content, and coordinating samples for the digital product sampling method involves a significant amount of time, effort, and cost.
- Additionally, businesses need to purchase the required technology to manage a successful campaign.
Steps of Running an Effective Product Sampling
Presently we should discuss the subtleties of a viable product sampling campaign:
1) Knowing your goals
Brands should find out what they need to get from such a campaign. They should know what they expect to accomplish by product sampling, for what reason would they like to send these particular samples, etc.
2) Choosing your Target Audience
Brands need to ensure that the people they are focusing on are the best crowd in the target market. To target, get to know them on a more profound level, and if you need to observe the right target market for your product, concentrate on the competitors’ target base.
3) Having the right timing
Brands should start product sampling campaigns half a month or even a couple of months before introducing them to the target market. This will assist to generate reviews and will allow buyers an opportunity to look into the products.
4) Following post-sample purchase updates
Brands can send post-sample purchase messages or emails or they can share surveys or questionnaires. Nonetheless, brands can also find many tools and organizations that can deal with the entire course of product sampling for them and even handle post-purchase management.
5) Review and repeat
The product sampling process is tied in with establishing a long-term connection. Therefore, brands should continue going through reviews, answer as much as they can, and solve purchaser worries as well as could be expected.
Questions to Ask While Planning a Product Sampling Campaign
When brands design their product sampling campaign, they should pay heed to follow questions-
- For what reason would you like to run a product sampling campaign?
- What is the product you need to offer as product samples and what would be the number?
- Who would you like to send your free samples to?
- How would you like to deliver your free samples- online, in-store, in-person, etc?
- What will be your technique (email, survey, phone, questionnaire, etc) for interaction with your likely purchasers?
- When would you like to introduce your new product to the target market after the product sampling campaign?
- How much time do you have to run your sampling campaign means what is the deadline for your sampling campaign?
- What is the amount of time your potential shoppers have to review your product sample?
- How much money would you like to spend on a product sampling campaign?
Responding to these inquiries will explicitly assist brands with arranging their product sampling campaigns in a result-driven manner.
Obstacles while Managing a Product sampling campaign
When brands deal with a product sampling campaign and believe it should succeed, they need to have an exceptional team that can handle a few obstructions that they might experience in the process. Let us have a look at some of the obstacles to product sampling campaigns-
- Confused objectives- Some of the time, each colleague has an alternate objective at the top of their priority list while some of the time you might put forth objectives that are not in sync with the general growth strategy of the brand, while other times you might lay out objectives that are not achievable or measurable
- Picking the wrong target audience- Brands might experience issues realizing who will be the ideal audience for your product and where they reside. When brands do not pick the live and updated database, they make mistakes in choosing the right audience
- A considerable number of undertakings – Brands managers need to know the number of samples they will require, the amount they will cost, where they need to store them, and how they will offer that to target audiences
- Managing expenditure- Overseeing funds in a product sampling campaign is way more than just assessing the number it will cost. Managers need to stick to their spending plans constantly.
- Choosing delivery method- As per chosen delivery method, brands need to think about storing, packaging, and shipment that might modify the final expense assessment and screw up their schedule
- Using customer support- According to your selected method, you must be ready to answer your customers about quite a few things along with delivery misunderstandings, defective packages, grievances, comments, and so forth.
- Information gathering method- You should have a unified way for information gathering within your organization. Product sampling teams must have similar exactness in data collection and recording.
- Data analysis- In the wake of user feedback, you want to investigate it into valuable data that is significant for your product owner and design team.
- Communication- The product sampling process demands effective communication between design and marketing teams to make it more result-oriented
Common Product Sampling Mistakes
When brands or companies decide to utilize product samples to draw in new customers, acquaint various types of audiences with their products, and captivate existing customers to purchase more, they need to avoid some common mistakes.
Let us have a look at some of those mistakes here and now-
- Offering an excessive number of free samples
- Excluding a clear next step
- Just offering in-person samples
- Not thinking about the cost impacts of sampling
The Psychology of Product Sampling
Marketing strategy can be more effective using product sampling due to three key psychological concepts –
1) Rrisk Aversion Concept
It’s important to remember that our brains sometimes make irrational decisions. This is because if our brains were to thoroughly analyze every decision, it would require too much energy. To conserve energy, we often make quick decisions without much thought.
We tend to choose products that we are already familiar with rather than trying out new ones, even if those new products are more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and better suited to our lifestyle. Product sampling is a way for consumers to try a product without paying for it, which reduces their risks.
2) Reciprocity Concept
Product sampling can be an effective method to encourage consumer generosity, as per the findings of recent social psychology studies that indicate people are more likely to reciprocate when a favor is done for them first.
Reciprocity can also be utilized in product sampling by offering free samples to consumers, which may lead to future purchases of the product.
3) Inclination toward a brand
Finally, after making a positive impact on consumers, they are more likely to have a favorable opinion of you and your products.
Product sampling can help customers determine if your products are good, which can lead to brand loyalty if they have a positive experience.
Understanding these three psychological concepts and using them in your product sampling strategy can help you increase customer engagement in both the short and long term.
When should you launch a Product Sampling Campaign?
- Before offering the product for sampling, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s of high quality and efficacy. A poorly made product will receive harsh criticism from those who try it out, emphasizing the importance of delivering a good one.
- You can afford the cost of samples, which includes the cost of the samples themselves as well as expenses for shipping, handling, staffing, and marketing. Using CashBack Sampling can help reduce these costs.
- To promote an existing product, it’s important to increase brand awareness. If your brand is not well-established, rely on positive word-of-mouth to generate awareness and drive more sales. However, make sure to assess whether expansion is possible within your current business model.
- To successfully launch your new product, consider offering product samples. Sampling will aid in product development and generate excitement. Individuals who try your product and enjoy it are more inclined to make purchases, spread the word, and potentially create shareable content.
Benefits of Product Sampling
1) Help customers make purchasing decisions
Before seeking information about a potential solution, customers need to become aware of a need or desire or recognize a problem that needs to be solved.
Next, when considering a product, customers evaluate various options and their specifications. Numerous factors such as price, availability, personal preferences, and biases impact shoppers’ decisions.
2) Play on reciprocity
Reciprocity is a phenomenon where when someone does something nice for you, you feel a strong urge to do something kind for them in return. This is why businesses often offer free samples to customers.
If someone receives something from you, they may feel obligated to do something kind in return, such as buying a product as a way of thanking you for providing a sample.
3) Increase the brand exposure and affinity
Providing current customers with new samples as a special offer can also enhance brand loyalty in addition to attracting new customers.
Although product samples were a factor in the outcomes, they were not the only aspect. It was crucial to offer excellent service and a pleasant environment along with the samples, as simply providing free items may not be sufficient to satisfy every customer.
4) Improve consumer confidence
Allowing customers to try a product can build their trust in your brand and products, as well as help them establish realistic expectations and foster a lasting relationship.
5) Test new products
Although the high street is not completely shut down, it’s unwise to overlook the growing number of people who favor online shopping.
The comfort of searching for a product, comparing alternatives, and receiving it at your doorstep the very next day is unparalleled.
6) Increase sales at the point of purchase
We often turn to discounts as a way to increase the chances of store visitors making a purchase. Even a small discount of 5% can be quite irresistible for customers.
Relying solely on discounts to convert visitors into buyers can be detrimental to the business in the long term, especially if customers begin to perceive the products as always being sold at a heavily discounted price.
7) Increase customer loyalty
Repeat customers are a major source of revenue for most direct-to-consumer brands, with a major chunk of a company’s business coming from them.
According to research, more than ninety percent of customers become more loyal to a company when they trust it. Offering free samples is a strategy that leverages this trend. Customers can test the value of the product and decide if it’s worth buying at its retail price by using and interacting with it.
Product Sampling Tips
1) Define your target audience first
When providing free samples in your retail store, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. Think about what your ideal customer would like and choose a product based on that. The same principle applies to all aspects of your store.
2) Establish clear goals
Before giving out your product samples, it’s important to have a clear plan. Ask yourself the following questions: What’s the reason for offering free samples? Who’s your target audience for these samples? How will you determine if offering free samples is successful?
3) Be mindful of the timing
When you offer product samples, give people enough time to experience the benefits firsthand. If you wait too long to repurchase the product after receiving sample reminders, you may forget about it and the purchase may slip your mind. To encourage them to buy the full version at the regular price, you can convince them or provide them with another free sample to refresh their memory of the product’s excellence.
4) Be strategic about sampling location
The placement of free samples in your retail store is heavily influenced by the store’s layout. Select locations that have high customer traffic and avoid areas that are rarely visited, such as the back of the store.
To increase visibility and attract more customers, consider placing your sampling station in strategic locations such as by the store entrance, in the window, or at the checkout desk to entice shoppers to try a free sample.
5) Leverage social media
When we receive something for free, it’s a bonus – an unexpected but appreciated addition. When we’re pleasantly surprised, we tend to share our gratitude with others.
Although it may seem obvious, please keep in mind that we would appreciate it if you could share a positive tweet or Instagram Story about our product in return for receiving it for free. This aligns with the principle of reciprocity that we previously discussed.
6) Solicit feedback
Providing free samples is a great way to obtain feedback from people who have tried a small version of your product, even if they don’t become paying customers.
After a few days of sending the reminder email, send another email asking why the full-size item wasn’t purchased. This will help you to fine-tune your product sampling campaigns in the future, as you can learn if it was the price, lack of results, or unavailability in-store that prevented them from buying.
Best Product Sampling Ideas
The following ideas will optimize your product sampling marketing strategies quite effectively –
1) Characterize your ideal target audience first
All that brands do in their retail stores is based on their ideal target audiences. So, when it comes to product sampling, it should also be channelized around the right audiences. They should regularly consider what their ideal customers crave or demand. Their responses will help brands settle on the free stuff.
2) Layout clear objectives
Brands should really have an arrangement and goal for offering product sampling. They should think about the motivation behind providing free samples. They should also know what they expect to accomplish, as realizing this will assist with informed decisions around what to offer, when, and for how long. They should also be clear about who would they like to try the free sample. Plus they should also know how they will measure success.
3) Be aware of the timing
While offering free samples, timing is everything and brands have to pay heed to this. They should ensure they are giving individuals sufficient time to see its advantages. Communicating with your users at the right time, using the best feasible communications channels, incorporating new technologies, etc are the important factors of successful product sampling strategies.
4) Be aware of the right sampling location
Brands should position their sampling station in a spot that is noticeable to in-store customers and bystanders. They can have a sampling station by the entrance to draw in individuals as they initially enter the store. Brands can also place them in the window for encouraging bystanders to drop in and claim a sampled product. Having a sampling location at the checkout desk can also be a good idea to push those making a buy to take a free sampled product of another item that might purchase later while revisiting the store.
5) Leverage Social Media Power
When people get anything free, they consider it a reward or a bonus. At the point when brands share their free samples on social media, their target audiences get more inclined towards opting for that as well as sharing with their networks. That is why many brands use sampling promotions on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media portals before the product launch to target consumers’ minds and drive sales later. The vast majority of successful brands use social media as their widely used strategy which is cost-effective and result-driven.
6) Ask for the valuable feedback
Regardless of whether you convert samplers into sales, using a product sample is a magnificent method of gathering valuable feedback from those who’ve used the free version of your product. You can use reminders and then follow-up emails to ask them why they did not buy the full and paid version of your product. Their feedback will help you in optimizing your product as well as your sampling strategy to have a loyal consumer base who would love to opt for samples and make purchases later from a specific brand.
7) Include sampling in loyalty programs
As we said before, offering product samples can increase customer loyalty, leading to steady revenue. To enhance this effect, consider using small samples to encourage customers to join your loyalty program.
8) Cross-promote with other products
Collaborating with another business can effectively promote both businesses’ products by exchanging product samples. This strategy can enhance visibility and boost the likelihood of customers buying products from both businesses.
9) Encourage customers to try your new products
One way to use product sampling is to introduce a new product or flavor. You can offer a free sample of the newest flavor to customers who have purchased the original version. This can help boost sales by encouraging customers to try something new.
On a concluding note, it is clear that effective product sampling is one of the useful marketing strategies that brands can use to optimize brand awareness, target specific audiences, convert a new prospect, beat other competitors, and increase sales.
For optimized sampling strategies, brands can include sampling in loyalty programs. They can also partner with charities to promote samples to channel heightened awareness about the business and its product line. Product sampling can further be leveraged to get customer reviews and ensure more value from the existing products or any new product.
How effective do you consider product sampling for a brand in generating new leads and optimizing conversions? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below.
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