The psychology behind consumer sampling programs

Product sampling has become a leading marketing tool for most CPG businesses, but few people really know what it is that makes the consumer sampling programs so effective. 

Understanding the root of why sampling works can help businesses: 

  • Enhance their product sampling strategies 
  • Craft and implement  better product sampling campaign 

What’s the science behind consumer sampling programs? 

Understanding the psychology behind product sampling can really help both direct-to-consumer (D2C) and in-store brands boost sales and introduce new products into the market. By understanding the “psychology of free”, your brand can influence consumers’ immediate purchase behaviour like never before. 

These 3 major consumer insights explain exactly why a product sampling campaign can benefit your business and magnify the success of your brand’s marketing objectives:

1. Risk Aversion

Implementing your own consumer sampling program is a great way to help customers get a better idea of what your brand is all about with absolutely no risk involved. Since it requires no cost commitment from the consumer’s side, potential customers can experiment with a range of new products and are free to decide which product is exactly right for them. 

There’s also little to lose for businesses as consumer sampling programs allow for greater customer reach and incredible ROI with relatively little expense. As a brand you’ll be able to give consumers the most compelling argument to buy your product - actually letting them try it. 

2. Reciprocity

When consumers are offered free samples it urges them to commit to a purchase on the same day and also evokes something called the reciprocity instinct. Let’s say you're walking down the aisles at your go-to grocery store and you taste one of the free samples of the new chocolate bar on display. Did you end up buying that chocolate bar? Or did you at least think about it? That’s part of the reciprocity instinct.

The idea is that consumers feel a subtle need to give something back to a brand in return for getting a free sample. This can be in the form of a purchase decision or by providing valuable reviews and insights for the brand. It’s a reciprocal relationship as brands give away great product samples and get valuable feedback in return. 

3. Sentiment

By implementing their own product sampling program, businesses are able to create a much stronger first impression than most other types of digital marketing or direct marketing ever could. 

What better way to create a real relationship between your brand and your consumers than by allowing them to actually interact with your product? In this way, customers form real attitudes towards the product and, when consumers have a positive sentiment towards the sample, it increases the likelihood that they’ll take the plunge and commit to the purchase. 

Current research on consumer sampling programs

  • Changing directions: Product sampling could be the swing vote that encourages consumers to choose your product over a range of alternatives. As many as 24% of those who participated in a recent survey claimed that a sampled product had specifically replaced an item that they had planned to buy.
  • Brand trailing: a strong consumer sampling program greatly improves the chance of potential customers committing to your brand and purchasing your product post-sampling. Sampling has a strong effect on their post-sampling purchasing habits and feelings of brand loyalty, as well as increases the likelihood that consumers will continue to follow your brand rather than switch to another down the line.
  • Brand loyalty: Did you know that researchers have found that free samples encourage positive consumer sentiment towards the brand and influence consumers’ purchasing behavior for as long as 12-months post-sampling? Amazing, right?
  • Provoking a sense of goodwill: a consumer sampling program is the perfect way to allow consumers to gain a better feel of the brand. It’s been shown that more consumers feel that they can better trust a product and are more likely to consider the brand as reliable after experimenting with a product sample first-hand. 

Why choose Peekage to coordinate your consumer sampling program?

  1. Peekage allows users to order free samples of your product to be delivered directly to their home for testing. 

This is a relatively risk-averse approach as consumers have little cost or time commitment from their side (since they can ‘purchase’ samples easily with their virtual currency on the app), and Peekage ensures that the logistics and shipping process are as low-cost as possible for your business.

  1. Peekage follows up with consumer post-testing. 

Directing more attention towards consumer feedback and insights is a sure-fire way to create a personal connection with consumers. Consumers want to know that brands are listening to what they have to say, and gathering feedback from consumers will evoke a positive sentiment towards the brand while creating a strong sense of loyalty at the same time. 

  1. Peekage rewards users on the Peekage app for their feedback with virtual coins for in-app purchases and promotional vouchers. 

This is a great way to engage their reciprocity instinct and encourage them to provide valuable insight and reviews. Peekage also uses this consumer feedback to create actionable insights for brands so that they can better deliver the type of products that their consumers are really looking for.

Understanding the psychology behind product sampling is one of the most effective ways to bring your brand one step closer to converting samplers into purchasing customers and forming long-lasting relationships with consumers. So, why not start your journey towards creating your own consumer sampling program today? 

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