Footing The Bill On Free Samples and Goods – Is It Worth It?


Imagine spending months sourcing and creating the most beautiful products. You have a manufacturing contract ready; your marketing materials are stunning. And you have a range of exciting influencers and bloggers lined, up as well as a plan to put together some fabulous PR packs.


And now you’re going to give your product away for free?


While the idea does sound kind of ludicrous, because of course, you will be footing the bill on any free samples and free goods, it can actually be to your benefit. It is reported that free samples may boost your sales by as much as 2000%. Which is quite incredible.


If you think about all of the uses that free samples have, they’re not insignificant when it comes to having people understand your branding and your business. And we all know that customers love something free. So if they are able to get something free, they are more likely to talk about it and share it with their peers. 


They are giving you that UGC that is priceless. But ‘free’ comes with a price and that is getting everything from point A to point B, using the best freight forwarder in China you’ll be able to reduce the costs of your shipping and even arrange express shipping your factory samples.


You can use free samples to introduce your product to new audiences, to build those relationships with existing customers and give them an exclusive. You can also widen your product range without the risk of launching a whole range only for it to flop. 


More than anything offering free products, and samples will earn attention.


All of that trust-building, brand awareness, people experiencing things with your brand are all excellent outcomes for your bottom line. But there is an initial investment, and you will need to give up those product samples.


It is essential to understand why free things are so great for customers, and how giving something away for free will lead to a paying customer.

The Decision Process

When your customer needs to make a purchase, they are going to come across a few things. They will realise that they have a desire and the need for the product. Or they have a problem that needs to be solved. They will start to seek information about how to solve a problem. 


Now this problem could be that they have seen lipstick on a celebrity and they need it. The problem could also be that they have a leak in a pipe and they want to fix it. They will consider many solutions, as well as alternatives. And much of what influences the shopper’s decision when making a choice will be availability, speed of delivery, price and bias or personal preference.


Of course, social proof is shown to make a massive impact on the buyer’s decision. So providing samples directly to the hands of your potential clients will give them access to what it is that they need, want, and solve the problem. They can try the products for themselves straight away, and that experience provides a very balanced outlook.


Interestingly the psychology between getting something nice means you want to give something nice. It is not uncommon for a business to provide a free sample for the customer, and then a customer feels like they should purchase the full size. The exchange is called reciprocity. And if you don’t really have to do anything, or apply pressure to get that purchase. It’s just human nature in play.


Happy people buy things. Free samples play a crucial role in increasing the satisfaction of your current customers and attracting new ones. But your existing customers are where brand loyalty is. And brand loyalty should be something that you are fostering continually. It should be noted that  providing samples should be alongside already great customer service and a high-qulaity product. 


Offering something for free sometimes isn’t enough to win over every customer, and sometimes offering something for free makes a customer feel suspicious depending on the circumstances. Which means that if you are offering your samples online, you should make sure that all of the websites are in keeping with your branding and looks neat and trustworthy. It should be inkeeping with your brand, void of ads, and have clear T&Cs.

Not Like That

Much like everything in business, there is a wrong way to do this. Offering free samples is always a great idea unless you are doing it incorrectly. Too many samples can backfire. If you present people with too many choices that it will end up in something called a paradox of choice. This means there are too many things to make a choice from, and therefore they cannot make a choice at all. 


When you present people with two or three options, a choice will usually feel manageable, so long as you’re not forcing one particular thing. The more choices that you offer up the ability to make a simple decision quickly declines. 


Eventually, there will be a point where they can make no decision at all because they feel overwhelmed.

Which Products

You will need to make a decision on which free samples you would like to give away. They should be part of your marketing plan, and you’ll want to consider a couple of these points before offering your entire inventory for customers.


Whom are you trying to communicate with? Why do you want them to try your products, and how will you get them directly to that person? For example, if you want to introduce a brand-new baby product to parents, how do you go about securing that niche even more so if it is outside of your current product range?


What is the reason for offering free samples? You need to understand what the reason is before you go ahead and do it just because it sounds like a good thing to do. Understanding that will help inform your decision on what you should offer, where you should offer it, and how long for.


What will be your measurement of success? Is the measurement of success that 100% of your samples went to, for example, parents with babies under the age of three months? Or would it be UGC? Will you be supplying a survey with your free sample in order to get more Insight?

Online and Off-line

Some samples help incentivise new customers to make a purchase, and samples help create a sense of brand loyalty for people who have already purchased with you a number of times. However, the caveat is that it is as long as you have a physical location or ability to hand those samples to customers.


This can pose a problem if you run a mainly online store. Taking advantage of getting free samples can be tricky for people then, but it does not mean it is impossible.


You can offer free sample packs with online purchases, have a paywall of $30 and have a free face mask included. Or you can provide free samples in a small selection on your website with a low shipping cost. Sample size products do well with customers who are shopping online and if they’re trying to make the decision between spending $20 and $30 usually the idea of a free product on top is enough to entice the extra spend.


There are many other ideas, you can use them to get the sample products into the hands of those potential customers. It will not work with all businesses, but many companies are using a try at home service. Where they can select a few items of clothing, glasses, anything that they like they can keep, anything they don’t like they can return. 


Of course, the customer will need to input some payment details, but no payment will be taken until a decision is made by the customer. If a customer were to fail to send back anything or cause any damage, charges for the incidentals would apply.


This is an innovative way to let shoppers sample what you offer, without you needing to create actual examples. And often a customer will be so happy with everything; such is the nature of receiving parcels, they might purchase more than they initially thought they would. 


If you don’t have the budget to create actual sample sizes, you can offer some of the smallest products in your product line at a lower price point when visitors subscribe to your mailing list or make another purchase. 


This still means you will be able to get the sample into their hands, but you also get paid to do it, and there is an exchange of information so you can market to them over time too.


Free samples and free goods are good for business provided that you do it in the best possible way. Always have a goal in mind, your KPIs are essential here, but the needs of your customers first and look for available spaces to deliver those samples into the hands of customers. The increase in sale from free samples and goods, far outweighs the initial cost. So is it worth it? Yes.