Does Giving Away Product Samples Increase Sales?
Winston Churchill once said that “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” While that ethic certainly is vital for the cultivation of healthy relationships that lead to a fulfilling life, giving can also play an essential part in the financial success of a business. In every industry, the end goal is to increase sales. From that vantage point, giving away your product might undoubtedly seem to be counterproductive. Giving away product samples or offering free products, however, is a scientifically verified persuasion and marketing tactic that can help to attract new clientele and improve customer identification with your brand.
Product Sampling Statistics: Impact on Sales
Developing an appealing brand with exceptional, high-quality products is only half the battle. Getting your product into the hands of your potential customers is often the biggest challenge that small companies and startups face.
Imagine a shopper walking down the “low-carb” or “ keto aisle” of their local supermarket searching for snack options that will allow them to maintain their nutritional goals while still being able to enjoy an in-between meal snack. With the global Keto diet market size expected to grow by USD 1.11 billion during 2019-2023, the variety of Keto-certified snack food options will undoubtedly continue to expand. How can a small brand persuade that shopper to choose their product over that of their competitors?
Everyone loves a freebie, and offering product sampling is often the difference-maker that can allow brands to convert customers into loyal brand followers. Furthermore, giving away product samples is a great way to encourage impulse purchases, which is often the first step towards developing a steady customer base. One study estimates that the average shopper routinely makes three unplanned purchases during 40 percent of store visits. Offering a product sample in the aisle of the supermarket where you sell your Keto food products is one strategy to convert window shoppers into active consumers.
Also, another recent white paper by experts in the study of food sampling effectiveness found that almost three out of every four consumers were likely to purchase a product after having first tried it. For comparison´s sake, the same study found that only one out of every four consumers would buy a product after having seen a TV commercial. We have written extensively about the advantages that come with online marketing, and Keto food brand startups would do well to look at product sampling as another component of a comprehensive marketing strategy aimed at connecting directly with their target population.
Knickerbocker Coffee Company
In the city that never sleeps, coffee is the lifeblood for much of the population. While there is no shortage of demand for coffee in New York City, carving out a niche in this highly competitive market can certainly be a challenge. The Knickerbocker Coffee Company uses the art of free samples to convince New York coffee drinkers that their single estate origin coffees are the best NYC can get. On their website, they offer a free 2-ounce package of any coffee on their menu, and customers only have to cover the minimal cost of postage.
The owners of this startup coffee company state it plainly: “if you don’t believe that our coffee is undeniably the best, order yourself a free sample and see for yourself. We trust that, after you give it one sip, you’ll be back to indulge much more in our delicious coffees.” From a business perspective, a free 2-ounce sample is a small price to pay, especially if this strategy leads to a loyal customer base who are willing to shell out $16.95 for the pounds of coffee they sell online.
Benefits of Giving Away Free Samples
Giving away free samples is often the opening that startups need to develop their niche in the market. Not only does the practice of product sampling validate the quality of your product, but it also promotes your brand with more visibility. Further benefits of giving away samples include:
- Introducing your Product to New Customers: Despite the growing popularity of the Keto Diet, many consumers are still unfamiliar with the benefits that come with a low carb diet. Offering product samples is one way to approach people with a mild interest in the Keto Diet and to convince them healthier nutrition doesn’t sacrifice flavor and quality.
- Building Relationships: Successful brands are those that have found ways to create enduring relationships with their clientele wherein customers identify with the brand. Offering samples of new products to your loyal customers is one to strengthen that sense of connection between brand and consumer.
- Increasing Loyalty with Customers: People appreciate freebies, and will often reciprocate that offering with long term brand loyalty.
- Increasing Knowledge and Visibility of the Brand and Brand Offerings: By giving away free samples of your product, you are also demonstrating to potential customers that you don’t have anything to hide. Offering “freebies” reveals trust in your product and creates more visibility and transparency in what you offer to the market.
A Few Ideas for Product Samples
Offering product samples needs to be part of an integrated, holistic business plan and marketing strategy. Giving away products will always represent a cost for any business, and thus should be strategically designed to help your business meet aggressive growth goals. Below, we offer a few ideas for how Keto food brands can tactically use product samples to increase their market share or stimulate new business growth.
- Free samples to kick-start a new business: When introducing a new Keto food brand, finding ways to distinguish your product from others on the market is essential. Product sampling can let customers see for themselves what you bring to the table.
- Free samples to sponsor an event: Any gathering of people is a potential opportunity to connect with new customers. Keto food brands that sponsor an event will not only increase their name recognition but can also place a booth wherein they offer free samples to potential customers who haven’t heard of the company.
- Free samples as a customer bonus: What better way to show your customers your appreciation than by sending them free samples to thank them for their dependable business? For example, a Keto food brand could offer a freebie after a client has purchased a certain amount of product in a given timeframe. It is worth mentioning that 83 percent of consumerssaid customer loyalty programs were a significant factor in their decision to continue doing business with a brand.
- Send samples to influencers: In today´s digital world, social media influencers have come to play a significant role in marketing. Almost nine out of every ten companies say that the return on investment from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. Sending product samples to strategic social media influencers in the low-carb diet niche is a great way to develop a relationship with people who can push your product and help expand your customer base.
- Free samples during in-store demos: In-store demos and sampling events are powerful ways to boost sales while building brand & product awareness. Demos have proved to increase a product’s daily sales more than 500%, not to mention the value gained from exposing diverse consumers to your overall brand.
- Free samples at a paleo or keto trade show: Offering free samples at events that pre-select for a particular group or “food tribe” sharing personal similarities increases the likehood that your sample will be given more than a fair shot. This idea combines the value of the Liking Principle, and the Reciprocity Principle, two of the six scientifically-validated, universal principles of persuasion.
While increasing sales is obviously the goal of any business, offering free product samples is a scientifically-sound marketing strategy. “You must give to receive” is one of the tenets of most major spiritual paths, and is also an important piece of business wisdom.