Sampling is one of the most impactful ways to engage new consumers; it increases brand awareness and consumer trust. Did you know that over 70% of customers are likely to buy a product once they’ve tested it, and less than 25% say the same after seeing a TV commercial? (Eventeem.co.uk, 2020) Sampling strategies are constantly evolving, especially with new digital and technological developments. The recent surge in how consumers interact with brands online can have many benefits for FMCG brands. There is a clear focus on customer acquisition and retention, aiming to reach and attract new customers and awareness. There is also clear psychology behind product sampling, and it remains a key part of business marketing strategies, engaging customers in a more involved and personalised experience. Today we will discuss the benefits of sampling to both consumers and brands, and how it engages consumers within businesses.
Building Brand Loyalty
Consumers love to try before they buy and everyone loves a freebie, especially samples, promo items and giveaways. Offering a free sample helps build brand loyalty, increasing the chances of gaining repeat customers. Human nature forms a positive association with free products, as people feel like they've been given a gift or owe a favour. It is very important to build customer loyalty alongside your brand. People like purchasing things they have experienced first-hand, and sampling helps bring attention to products they might not have tried or noticed. If the consumer acknowledges that you have offered them a freebie, they will be more loyal and appreciate your generosity.
Sampling is a good way to thank customers for their support. The unexpected generosity combined with the pleasure of discovering a new product, and the law of reciprocity increases the chances of buying it. It shows you value customers, especially if you are offering a gift for their birthday or anniversary, to make them feel special. This shows your generosity, giving products for people to use or consume.
When distributing samples to potential consumers, you create a relationship between consumer and brand. By winning consumers over with gifts, they become more likely to give your brand a chance and approach you again in the future. It also creates an emotional connection between the product and the target consumer, central to brand loyalty. This psychology behind sampling involves risk aversion, reciprocity and sentiment. With the mutuality from being offered a complimentary product sample, the consumer now feels they owe a return of favour to the brand. This is triggered either consciously or subconsciously, making the consumer more likely to purchase in the future.
Cognitive Bias and Reciprocity
Cognitive bias is known as reciprocity; this occurs when a brand gives consumers a freebie or free sample. This becomes an important part of the shopping experience, with people trying products being far more likely to buy them than those who don’t. As Free4you sends products to consumers, in-home eCommerce sampling has a similar effect. When mailing out free samples; this triggers the reciprocity effect, increasing the chances of a consumer buying the product.
The power of sampling shows that businesses have confidence in their products, thus increasing consumer confidence. This makes shoppers feel more confident to make informed purchasing decisions. Customers are more likely to buy from brands they trust, building a sense of trust among customers. This results in higher social media engagement, positive press coverage and word of mouth. Therefore, samples allow them to know how products work and feel, and people like purchasing things they have experienced first-hand. This helps bring attention to products they may not have tried or noticed.
Sampling builds advocates and awareness, driving customers to share experiences with friends and family through word-of-mouth marketing. You can create a loyal and devoted customer base through word-of-mouth, with people sharing recommendations with family and friends. Therefore, the customers help market your product for you, sharing, liking and commenting on social media, sharing through their contacts.
Short-Term Purchase Behaviour
Beyond short-term purchasing behaviour, consistent sampling helps boost sales within marketing strategies. Sampling has many effects on short-term purchase behaviour. When consumers are offered free samples, their short-term purchasing behaviour becomes significantly increased. This conveys that sampling doesn't only spread a product to consumers quickly, it encourages consumers to make purchases on the day of the product sampling.
Try Before You Buy
Sampling shortcuts buying decisions, allowing customers to ask questions about a product instead of leaving them to wonder what it’s like. This also eliminates buyer regret, helping establish a long-term customer. The samples allow consumers to try a new product and compare it to previous ones, allowing for experimentation of a new product. People will be inclined to positively review and rate them, and this will convince others that the product is worth buying. Consumers tend to stick with products they already know and like. Therefore, highly targeted, unique targeting and activation processes mean that the only consumers trying your products are the ones you have chosen. Sampling also gives customers a taste, feel or smell of your product, and this is a crucial part of the process. Until a customer has had their own experience with a product, they won’t know what it’s like. Using their senses for experience is very important in exploring your product. The emotion of actively engaging the senses creates a powerful emotional response, keeping that positive memory in front of mind for the customer when they buy. This creates a law of reciprocity, feeling a closer connection to a company after having a sample product. If they can’t use your product, they will think of someone you can.
Builds Brand Awareness
Sampling gets people thinking and talking about your product, and helps it to catch their attention, further helping social media presence. Freebies in your sample category can be publicised quickly, and people will share that you are offering something for free. You can set up a page for future customers to be alerted when sample opportunities are available. This also helps public relations and coverage. Sending samples to social media influencers and bloggers is a great way for them to use and share your product. Sampling, therefore, helps consistently drive offline word-of-mouth advertising.
Sampling also increases conversion likelihood, with more people being likely to buy your products. People will get into the habit of using your product; this will increase revenue and help you stand out from the competition. Therefore, sampling helps supports new retail formats and defends against competition from other discounts products. In-store sampling has been proven to increase sales uplifts by over 250% in return on investment (Fizz.co.uk, 2018). This, therefore, influences future purchasing, with sales generally continuing once the activity has ended. Immediate sales are therefore increased through unexpected generosity and the pleasure of discovering a new product.
Product sampling within marketing campaigns can be very cost-effective, allowing you to reach a larger part of your demographic at lower costs. Testing a product as a free sample doesn’t require a lot of commitment or investment from the receiver. These are less expensive and more profitable, with very positive results and return on investment. Sampling saves money because it allows researchers to gather data and answers from a sample that they would normally receive from a population. These types of experiential marketing are some of the strongest ways to encourage consumers to buy products. This type of marketing pushes to secure customers for further purchases and who will encourage friends and family to buy.
It also helps support the launch of new products and brand activation, assisting in developing and broadcasting products. New samples draw customers to the activation of a brand or its products. Using free sampling campaigns can also sell the uniqueness of products. This also creates excitement and enthusiasm, becoming a great way to create a buzz around something new, and encouraging user-generated content on social media. This also attracts new customers and builds a connection through the quality, message or ethos of the brand. Free and exciting new samples tempt customers to buy from you in the future and help you stand out. Therefore, this drives website traffic and sign-ups, collecting details, such as email addresses of prospective customers, increasing your marketing base and achieving further sales.
One on one interaction with consumers prompts immediate feedback about what they think about products. Samples provide more insight into what your target consumer is looking for and opens up to sharing and comparing with your competitors. The initial sampling also allows you to measure success and inform your future campaigns. Sampling helps collect samples from the market, using different approaches and techniques, helping improve older products by taking feedback. This helps improve your products by seeing what their reception is like and interacting and hearing from customers is vital for your business development.
Sampling is highly important for consumers and brands, offering a free trial and driving engagement and awareness. Here at Free4you, we know that every sample and consumer trail counts, so we target chosen consumer profiles through an industry-leading selection process and a unique approach. We have an intelligent sampling solution where everything we do starts with placing products into profile qualified consumers hands. Did you know that 77% state that receiving a product sample would motivate them to try another product for the same brand? We understand the importance of placing brands in the hands of targeted customers and maximising the outputs. Everything we do starts with placing products into consumers hands. If you would like to learn more about sampling, then click here, or follow our social media for updates.