The Power of Product Sampling

Editor’s note: This article is an edited version of an article that was originally published in the October 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Marketing skin care products is often challenging—there are so many competing choices in today’s oversaturated marketplace. Using free samples to promote skin care products can boost sales tremendously.

There is always reluctance to giving away free samples. Some may think giving away samples is too expensive. There also may be concerns that the cost of sampling will not generate more revenue in product sales.

Giving away free samples of products can actually be more beneficial than discounting. Psychologists have explained how shoppers who have received freebies are more likely to buy products that have been given away as samples—and even become loyal customers. They have been given something for nothing, and now they feel obligated to reciprocate by buying the product.

Who Doesn’t Like to Receive a Free Sample?

People love to try new products—especially if they are free. Product samples are often referred to as “sensory samples.” Sensory samples are one of the best ways to engage consumers and motivate them to buy. Consumers become more connected with a product when they are able to see, feel and smell it. In turn, they will share their experiences with their friends about the products. People like to spread the word about their favorite skin care products by talking, tweeting, posting and reviewing. And free product sampling can help turn ordinary consumers into raving fans.

It’s all about exposure—getting product into the hands of consumers. Beauty companies spend billions of dollars on marketing every year through sampling. They know that a gift-with-purchase will encourage consumers to buy products they may have been on the fence about. Everyone loves something for free.

These free gifts allow consumers to try products risk-free and, at the same time, create brand awareness.

A survey carried out by the Product Sampling Council found that a whopping 92% of consumers said they would buy a new product if they liked it after receiving a sample. And, according to a Nielsen report, 70% of consumers say that recommendations are the No. 1 factor influencing their purchasing decisions.

In another survey conducted by Brand Share, nearly 60% of consumers were not aware of certain products before they had received a sample. This was true even for some products that had been around for several years. In addition to distributing samples, be aware of some key factors in getting the most return on your investment.

Samples should complement consumers’ needs. Giving a consumer with dry skin an acne cleanser is not going to generate a sale.

  • Samples should contain enough product to be useful..
  • Provide clear instructions on how to use the sample properly.
  • Inform consumers about the benefits of using the product.
  • Include instructions on how to purchase the full size product.

Product sampling gives consumers the opportunity to try new products risk-free. It is one of the best ways to create brand awareness and generate sales.

Jeana Delano is an esthetician and consultant based in Dallas.

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