The Importance of Sampling

You’re perusing the grocery store, and there’s a sample station set up inviting you to try a new multigrain biscuit from your favorite snack company. Are you going to meander over to try a sample? And if you enjoy the sample, are you going to purchase the product? 

If you’re like 65% of consumers, the answer is yes. A significant number of customers that try a sample product will buy the sampled product during the same shopping excursion. In addition, 24% of surveyed customers state that a sampled product even replaced an item they initially planned on purchasing. That alone is reason enough to include sampling in your brand activation lineup. Continue reading to learn more about what sampling is, the psychological concepts that could explain sampling’s success, and why sampling is so helpful.   

What Is Product Sampling?

To put it simply, product sampling (sometimes just referred to as ‘sampling’) is the act of giving consumers free products. Sometimes, the product is new and the intention behind sampling is to help consumers gain familiarity with the new item. Other times, brands choose to sample tried-and-true products that they want to provide a marketing boost. 

Product sampling dates all the way back to the 1850s when a soap manufacturer began to realize that providing consumers with free samples actually helped grow his business. The concept of product sampling itself isn’t new, yet it’s just as effective today as it was centuries ago.

The Psychology Behind Sampling’s Efficiency

There are several psychological concepts that suggest why sampling is an effective way to increase brand awareness and grow your business. First,  there is the concept of reciprocity. When a brand provides a customer with a free product, the consumer can feel indebted to the brand. As a result, they might feel an urge to purchase the item. In addition, it’s possible that consumers even feel a sense of social pressure to buy the product if other customers are at the sampling station. 

The next concept that could suggest why sampling is so effective is risk aversion. Humans avoid unfamiliar things and situations; the mere exposure effect explains that people typically prefer things that they are repeatedly exposed to (in this case, familiar products). Therefore, by giving customers an opportunity to sample products, you are removing the risk of the unknown that comes with buying an unfamiliar product. You’re also giving consumers the opportunity to create a positive memory with your brand. 

Why Is Sampling So Important? 

Are you wondering why it’s so important for brands to harness the power of sampling? Here are some of the main reasons why implementing sampling into your brand awareness campaign can prove helpful. 

Sampling Allows Consumers To Try Before They Buy

Today’s consumers want to know what they’re getting before they click add to cart or head to the cash register to checkout. A recent EventTrack survey revealed that 65% of consumers buy a product or service that is promoted at an event. 

When asked why they decided to make the purchase, nearly 80% indicated that it was because the brand provided them the opportunity to try it first. Sampling could also encourage long-term customer loyalty, as 58% of the survey respondents indicated that they would buy the product again. 

Sampling Encourages Consumers To Try Something They Might Have Not Otherwise

Did you know that 73% of consumers say that product samples would induce them to try to use an unfamiliar brand or product? Only 25% indicated that a television advertisement would entice them to do so. This again demonstrates the efficiency of sampling. 

In addition, 81% of people say that they’d try a product if they received a sample of it. Again, this has roots in psychology—by providing the customer an opportunity to try the product, you are decreasing their uncertainty and ultimately, any anxiety they may have around their decision to buy.

Sampling Can Help Generate Brand Awareness

If generating increased brand awareness is your company’s goal, sampling can also help achieve that.  In fact, brand awareness is the main goal of 81% of brands when they utilize experiential marketing or create brand activations.

Looking to create an unforgettable brand activation that harnesses the power of sampling? Reach out to Inspira Marketing Group today to learn more about how we can help.


How Effective Is Product Sampling? | Eye-opening Research | Eventeem 

All About Product Sampling Strategies, Methods & Techniques | Peekage 

Definitive Guide About Product Sampling – All You Need to Know | Peekage

Why we’re so terrified of the unknown | BBC Worklife 

mere-exposure effect | APA Dictionary of Psychology

2021 Will Bring a New Wave of Product Sampling Investment | Adweek  

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