I’m sure you have heard the phrase “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” but when it comes to samples have you heard the way to a man’s wallet is through his stomach? In store samples are a weakness to many, especially when it comes to food. I know I can never say no. Whether it’s the cheese in those plastic displays at Whole Foods or the multiple sample stations at Costco or the fresh made food at Trader Joe's.
Anyone who has a Costco membership knows that they are famous for their poor mans sample lunch, that what I call it anyway, don’t judge. With the amount of samples you get it’s the perfect free mini lunch! Of course it is a marketing gimmick to get you to try and hopefully buy the latest and greatest! Which I am always suckered into. Over the years my family has shopped there, we have tried samples that are now household favorites. If the sample wasn't offered I don't think I would have necessarily bought it. I love it because you get to try things you may have never thought of buying and I guess that is what makes it so successful.
However, I look at those passing out the samples; Are they really trying to sell that product? Do they make eye contact with you, or is it just a rehearsed line? A few companies sampling actually have a rep from that company, most other samples are passed out by senior citizens. I think these people handing out the samples can be indispensable to companies. They can see who’s trying it, the faces they make, do they love it, hate it, indifferent, put it in their cart, bring family members over to try it, does it go in the trash, or do they come back for seconds, or even thirds. Talk about invaluable market research!
Trader Joe's strategy is a bit different they take a few products from their shelves and create a meal. If it’s good, I usually end up purchasing all the ingredients!
My favorite though has to be the Nespresso counter at Bloomingdales. If you are not familiar with Nespresso, they make high end espresso machines. But the genius behind Nespresso is their various blends of coffee that come in pods that only work in the Nespresso machine. Well the espresso is amazing!! And once you try it (for free at the counter), the only way you can get more is if you buy a sleeve (10 for $12) and of course the $200-$800 espresso machine. They even sample their coffee at Target to push their lower end machines!
Samples and freebies are tried and true marketing ploys, yes they may be costly but companies are capitalizing on consumers impulse buys and let me tell you, it works.
What are your experiences with samples?