Research shows that, because we’re all being over-exposed to marketing and advertising messages all the time, we’re mindfully aware that we can sometimes be a bit intellectually lazy. That’s to say, perhaps we’re not allocating enough brainpower to making clear decisions over which brands we trust and which ones we don’t.

So for the businesses who are communicating in the digital environment, that represents a big challenge. Consumers are either not engaging with brands because they’re glossing over their messages with a casual swipe or a click, or, worse still, they’re actively mistrusting what the messages that they’re seeing.

Product sampling allows you to expose some of the people behind your brand and put products in your customers’ hands. By nature, humans are more willing to partake in a business transaction if they’ve met the sales person (and they like them, of course). But it’s about more than that – it’s about brands being able to jump over all the psychological hurdles that are stacked in front of them when their audience is on a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Create an enjoyable and memorable product sampling experience and you’ll get better results that any tweet, email or ebook.


On a more subtle level, product sampling takes advantage of our greediness. In the late 1990s, British psychologist Michael Eysenck worked on the ‘hedonic treadmill theory’ – which compares our pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill. Paraphrasing, the concept deals with how, once we have a taste of something we like, we’ll work hard to get more.

We always remember cool free stuff, right? Well there’s method behind the madness. Research shows that around 80% of consumers say that if they received a sample of something and liked it, they’d buy it.


Just avoid some common sampling mistakes. Where possible, try and make sure that your audience is made up of new customers. Create a campaign that allows your product to be sampled there and then in a relevant context. For example, don’t hand out bottles of shower gel to construction workers – they’re probably no showers around.

Also, never let someone sample without striking up a conversation. That’s the whole point of product sampling. The consumer in front of you is probably using social media in their spare time and is probably connected to hundreds, if not thousands of people. And those people are connected to hundreds, if not thousands of people. And so on. You wanted attention – don’t waste the opportunity.

Lastly, always try to design a campaign where you can measure results. Because if you can’t tell how successful a product sampling experience has been, you can’t improve for next time.

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