What is the most effective way of product sampling?

Product sampling can be an effective way to raise brand and product awareness. The customer can make a confident decision about a product when they are given the opportunity to test it before they buy. A sampling activation mixed with a positive brand experience helps to reach a wider target audience. A happy customer will share their experiences with their friends and family. Discover which method of product sampling is most effective. 

Product sampling is highly effective in raising awareness of a new or existing product. The psychology of free stuff helps us better understand the effectiveness of product sampling as after all everyone loves getting something for free.

Risk aversion

By allowing your customer to try before they buy, they can understand the product and your brand, removing all risk from their purchase. The free samples allow consumers to test out a variety of products before making their decision.

Reciprocity Instinct

A consumer feels obliged to return a favour. After receiving a sample, a customer is more likely to be open to being asked to review the product or buy it. This is because the consumer feels they need to give back after they have received something.


Your brand can build bonds and allows your customer to create a feeling towards your products. When the sentiment is positive consumers are more likely to make a purchase or review as they feel connected.

Direct sampling 

Direct sampling offers your brand a chance to connect with a customer before providing them with a sample. Depending on the environment dry or wet sampling will be used. Dry sampling offers the customer to try the product at home whereas wet sampling allows a consumer to try the product and give instant reviews. Wet sampling is the most popular form of product sampling for brands. 

Direct sampling is arguably the most effective form of product sampling, as it physically reaches audiences with face-to-face contact that is hard to avoid. A good brand ambassador will lead product sampling into sales, through their knowledge and enthusiasm for the product. Face-to-face contact allows your brand to build strong bonds with your customers, this is important, and is it encourages customers to keep returning to you. 

Letting a customer try the product before they buy helps them to make secure purchases whilst interacting with the brand experience. Marketing research firm Mintel reports that 76% of Millennials think sampling is fun. An interactive activation should be considered when targeting a young audience.

Supermarket sampling is highly effective if you are trying to reach a particular audience. Typically, the target audience within a supermarket at the time of activation is mums with babies and older people. So, if you are trying to market a product not aimed at them your brand should consider different locations, such as events, high streets, or business parks. Costco is famous for their wet product sampling seeing sales in some cases up by as much as 2,000 percent after activation.

Event-based sampling is great if you line up your product with a direct event. The founders of Innocent smoothie famously decided to launch the company after sampling their product at a food festival. Whilst event sampling can be effective with a guaranteed audience it is quite expensive for your brand to attend, with the cost of sponsorships, etc. 

Highstreet Guerrilla sampling is the cheapest form of sampling that can be effective in getting attention from new and existing customers. There are however many advantages and disadvantages to Guerrilla marketing. Due to the nature of Guerrilla marketing, it is hard to know if your target audience will be at the site of activation.  However, the freedom to move when there is no set location allows brand ambassadors to follow the crowds. Guerrilla marketing typically is fun and interactive so your brand can run activations that get people talking. 

Indirect sampling

This form of sampling has no direct physical interaction with the customer. For example, indirect sampling can be seen through e-sampling or product placement. This is popular with food and drink companies; samples are attached to a popular product to advertise a new product that would also fit with the same audience. 

Whilst indirect sampling is an effective way to promote a product there is no way to know if the consumer liked the product or a quick way to receive reviews. 

E-sampling is often seen when a customer orders some products, a brand will either send samples of their products or partner up with a brand that fits within their target audience. For example, Special K partnered up with clothing brand Misguided, sending samples of portion size boxes of the cereal when customers bought from the online retailer. The customer is unaware of the sample, so is pleasantly surprised to receive it in their expected delivery. Brands tend to partner up with other companies that also sell to a similar audience but are not in competition with. Brands that are complementary of one another are best to partner up with, for example, makeup and fashion or food and homeware. If a consumer buys a new leather jacket and within their parcel, they receive a free eyeliner they will be happy with their expected purchase but also the new product that can be used with their purchase. 

Indirect product sampling can also be seen in magazines with the perfume samples or in leaflets with sachets of products attached.

Sample boxes have seen a rise in popularity with some brands charging a set price for monthly subscription boxes filled with sample-size products. GottaBe! have ongoing relationships with GLOSSYBOX, HelloFresh, and many more to get your product placed in this way. 

Brands understand the need to try before buying so may now sell a sample for a low price such as £3-£5. This is then redeemable when the customer goes on to buy a full-size product. Whilst most product sampling is free to the consumer; beauty brands have discovered a consumer is willing to part with a small amount of money to test a product. This takes away the risk of purchase but also allows your brand to make a small profit. This type of sampling works well for beauty brands especially as the market is very saturated and consumers are overwhelmed by choice. A good brand experience adds value to your products, which in turn improves customer loyalty. 

Product sampling allows the customer to test the product risk-free, but it is the activation that the sample is delivered in that creates a positive brand experience. The delivery shouldn’t be pushy as the customer should be comfortable with the activation. Therefore, e-sampling is often a better choice when considering product sampling to a large audience. Although it is hard to get feedback for the product the customer is surprised by the complimentary sample and therefore it is received in a positive way. 

How GottaBe! can help you

We have strong relationships with retailers such as ASOS, boohoo, Next, Amazon and HelloFresh and can utilise these relationships to distribute your products to potential customers. Similar to our Product Demos/Sampling services, we can get your products and your brand in front of numerous shoppers. Contact the team today to find out more