As consumers, we love free stuff.
We love having something at no cost, even if it’s completely underserved or without any effort on our part. That’s because not only as consumers but generally as human beings, we’re addicted to instant gratification. We crave and want things immediately, and with the advent of the Internet and modern communication, this craving has gotten bigger and bigger.
The Internet didn’t change us all of a sudden. It just exposed us.
It simply took advantage of decision-makers who want immediate results just as much as they want to avoid immediate costs.
And today, marketers know this truth very well.
One of the most famous (and even abused) strategies, which concerns product sampling, is based upon just that.
It leverages our craving for free stuff and it mixes it up with a valid return on investment for the business, which is usually represented by a set of information on the consumer who expresses the desire to receive a freebie.
Today, product sampling is more often than not a valid starting point in many B2C (business-to-consumer) relationships.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the subject, and understand not only what product sampling is and how it can benefit our business, but also how it can actually be implemented.
Let’s get started.
What is product sampling?
Product sampling refers to a sample of a product or service which is offered to the end consumer for free, so he/she can try it out firsthand and therefore decide whether to commit to its purchase or not.
From the business’ standpoint, product sampling is useful, because it usually translates into meaningful data about the people who requested it.
From the consumers’, on the other hand, it’s a zero-risk investment that allows them to get acquainted with the new product without making definitive (and regrettable) decisions.
What are the benefits of product sampling?
Among the countless benefits of product sampling, the followings are the most worthy of attention:
- Product samples increase brand trust (and loyalty).
Brands who are willing to give away samples instead of forcing purchases are more likely to develop strong long-term relationships with their customers.
On the same breath, customers who perceive a certain level of trustworthiness and transparency from such brands, feel much safer in buying (multiple times) from it.
Trust is an essential part of any great relationship, and product sampling is a catalyst from that standpoint.
- They help gather useful feedback from customers.
Speaking from the business’ side, a product sample can serve as a small, low-cost prototype that gets better and better as customers’ opinions are collected.
Creating a product sample and gathering as much feedback (either positive or negative) as possible can dramatically improve the product itself.
Don’t forget that customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal.
As long as you’re willing to actively listen to their opinion and adapt the product to their suggestions and pain points, the end result will ultimately take care of itself.
- Product samples are low costs and failproof.
Product samples are cheap.
Regardless of the main product or service you sell, they shouldn’t be excessively costly and, as outlined earlier, shouldn’t require the customer to take too many action steps in order to get it.
With samples, you’re also allowed to fail much more.
Sure, they should never be plain average or the outcome of disinterested effort, but if there has to be an experimentation phase, the sampling creation is the perfect opportunity to try out different approaches until you find out what appeals to consumers the most.
How To Create A Product Sample?
In as little as three steps, you can immediately take advantage of a product sampling strategy and take your business to the next level. Here’s how to do it:
- Pick the product (or service) you’d like to sample.
Choose wisely which one is going to be the object of your “experiment”. It could be a product that, in your estimation, has the potential of becoming a best-seller in your niche, or it might be a variation of an already-established service you’ve sold a dime a dozen when it first came out.
You could also choose more than one option, and see how each one works out.
There’s really no strict rules to follow here. The important thing, however, is for it to be something that might appeal enough to your prospective clients.
- Pick an audience.
Once you’ve picked whatever it is you want to sample, choose the core audience whom you’re going to showcase it to.
If you’re selling, for instance, an anti-aging skincare kit, there’s really no point in presenting it to individuals under the age of 35.
Again, choose carefully. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on relevant improvement steps.
- Track results.
Take notes. Check out your target audience’s reactions, ask them questions based on the information you’re looking for, and listen.
One powerful way to track results, among the many, is through online customer feedback surveys.
Remember, anyway, to use the answers you get as useful insights that will lead you to take action in order to improve the product.
Product sampling: conclusions
Product sampling is one of the most revolutionizing discoveries in modern-day marketing.
It leverages humans’ risk-aversion mindset, and it turns it into an opportunity to get the foot in the door without being “pushy” or asking for an economic return right off the bat.
Earlier in this article, we listed some of the most important benefits of product sampling, but the real benefits can’t be counted on one hand (or two either).
It’s a great way for a brand to present itself in front of the right people and show them that customers’ demand fulfillment and satisfaction are its top priorities.
It also lets them know that short-term sales are not part of the business’ strategy, but on the contrary, long-term relationship building is.
For the customers, we already know that they’re exposed to all kinds of promotional materials all day, every day, from realities who oftentimes are asking for nothing but money. They’re tired of this “quid pro quo” approach and are therefore looking to be treated and taken care of in a different way.
Choosing to stand apart is hard.Implementing such a strategy means additional effort, resources, and patience. But in the end, it’s one of the very few ways to build a loyal customer base, along with a sustainable business model.