The psychology behind why product sampling works

By September 29, 2017General

What’s the logic behind product sampling? Why does it work? And why is it such a viable option for a variety of businesses, regardless of the industry?

The answer is: because of the way we, as humans, react to what’s on offer.

Marketing strategies aim to influence people, but the majority of tactics have a limitation. Companies can tell an audience how great something is, but so many things have to be in place for this to be effective.

For starters, the target has to believe and trust the message in question. But it also has to assume that the product will meet their expectations.

Now consider the alternative, namely what can happen when someone can touch, feel or taste the product that’s being advertised. That’s much more powerful and impactful, isn’t it?

All of sudden, the issue of trust becomes less important, as does the marketing collateral. Now the potential customer has all the power. They can make a purchasing decision on their own terms.

Once you’ve found your targets (perhaps at a trade show, on the high street or at an event), you’re halfway there. A product sampling campaign can be executed at low cost. Plus, with little tech involved and few overheads, it’s a win-win situation.

At the heart of this lie two innate desires. The first is our craving of all free things. We’re not used to it and we don’t expect it, so when we are presented with a freebie, that makes a big impression on us.

The second thing is that we are, by nature, pretty cynical. Many people read marketing copy and are instantly mistrustful – perhaps that’s the result of being continually bombarded with sky-high promises and intrusive sales pitches.

(Just think of PPI and the like.)

So this is a real barrier to the sale.

Now, what’s interesting is that handing the power over to the consumer by way of product sampling is a sign of confidence. Perhaps sometimes subconsciously, that sort of thing gets noticed and absorbed by consumers.

If you were to combine this with marketing collateral (both on and off-line) that covered off those other variables, that would be a winning combination.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on