Written by Kelly Kiely, Creative & Digital Marketing Specialist
It’s one of the oldest marketing strategies in the book: give people something for free now with the goal of driving sales later.
Free sample marketing has been around for over a century. It is the act of giving products or services to prospective and existing customers for free. According to inc.com, it’s especially effective in the health, beauty, and food industries.
In a Brigham Young University study from 2017, researchers measured the benefits that grocery stores and coffee shop chains experienced as a result of giving away free samples.
They discovered that free samples:
- Make the in-store shopping experience more enjoyable
- Drive an immediate boost in sales during the giveaway and the week after
- Continue to amplify sales up to eight weeks after
- Are twice as effective as discounts or product rearrangement
- Benefit small stores and businesses
Giving out samples was once limited to physical stores. Now, free sample marketing practices have slowly made their way to the digital landscape over the years. Many online businesses are finding ways to build trust in their products and services without meeting face-to-face.
Giving Brush gives out free eco-friendly toothbrushes and reusable straws year-round. Warby Parker sends customers their choice of five pairs of glasses to try on before they buy. Subscription services like Curology offer their first month free, so customers can make sure they really like the product before committing. The same goes for online entertainment services like Spotify and Netflix, offering their first month free of charge.
When consumers take you up on free samples, a few valuable things occur:
- Build awareness of your brand to new audiences
- Foster loyalty among existing customers
- Generate valuable leads through website traffic and email list-sign ups (when applicable)
- Build a foundation to boost sales long term
The internet allows customers to compare hundreds of prices and offers simultaneously. Offering an enticing gift is just one way to stand out among the competition. When executed right, free samples can attract new shoppers while encouraging existing customers to buy more. Those are great outcomes for your business and your revenue!