The Complete Psychology Behind Free Samples and Why they Work?

Dev Gupta Dev Gupta
Aug 18, 2022 5 min read
The Complete Psychology Behind Free Samples and Why they Work?

Ever wondered why people in malls offer free samples of their snacks? Sometimes in the newspaper, you get a small sachet of shampoo.

Why do brands offer free samples to consumers? After all, they don't get any money by giving you free samples.

According to research, 81% of consumers said that they usually try a new product after receiving a free sample. This shows that free samples are effective for brands to increase sales.

But, how does a free sample make people buy the product? Keep reading this article to understand the psychology of free samples & why/how it works.

How Free Samples Help Brand:
Do Free Samples Increase Sales?
Psychology of Free Samples & Why/How it Works:
Unique Ways to Incorporate Free Samples in your Business:

How Free Samples Help Brand

  • People who are unfamiliar with the brand get to know what products you offer.
  • Creates customer relationships with new customers and inspires loyalty with the existing customers.
  • Encourages repeat customers.
  • The feedback that the brand gets from free samples can help them improve the quality of products.
  • Brands get to understand what their target audience likes and dislikes.

Do Free Samples Increase Sales?

Product sampling is one of the effective ways to increase sales. Free samples can help your brand to increase sales and also creates brand awareness.

According to a study done by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, 35% of customers who have tried the sample will eventually buy the sampled product on the same shopping trip.

Psychology of Free Samples & Why/How it Works

Helps to Remove the Risk Factor:

Trying out new things is a very risky thing for many people. This is because many people think that the new product may not match their expectations. If the product is not good they will lose their money.

Nobody likes wasting their hard-earned money right? But, when you offer a free sample you are taking out all the confusion from the minds of your potential consumers.

Since they are not paying any money to try out the sample, the risk factor disappears.

Power of Experience:

People tend to remember the products that they have interacted with or experienced more than the ones they have read about or heard somewhere. This is quite obvious, isn't it?

If you have eaten delicious street food somewhere you will remember the taste of it even after weeks. If the sample product is good and satisfies your customer, they will remember its taste or experience even after weeks.

After some time, when they will see the product somewhere, they will automatically remember the taste or feel of it and eventually buy the product.

Principle of Reciprocity:

If your friends give you an amazing gift at your birthday parties, don't you also want to give them an amazing gift on their birthdays?

Or if your relatives have done some good for you, a feeling to help them naturally occurs in your mind. This is called Reciprocity.

The rule of reciprocity is a social norm where you feel obligated to return the favor if someone does something for you.

This is what exactly happens when brands offer free samples to consumers. When people get a free sample they will be obliged to return the favour in some way - buying your product.

Consumers usually feel guilty when they try the free samples. To get away from this guilt they tend to buy the product.

Reciprocity may not always lead to sales but, they will always remember your brand. If you have provided them with a memorable experience they will buy your products shortly.

The Secret Behind Apple’s Successful Marketing Strategy
Apple is one of the world’s most valuable brand because it has consistent marketing strategy built on core disciples, simple marketing, customer experience.

Unique Ways to Incorporate Free Samples in your Business

Offer Online Sign-Up:

You can make a separate landing page on your website to allow customers to order a free sample. Although keep the order number limited.

You can give the free samples to the first 50 or 100 people. In this way, you will get their basic details like mobile number and email id which we will help you in retargeting. Although this is a bit costly as you need to pay for the delivery costs.

Attach the Sample to the Purchased Product:

Free Sample
Free Sample

You can attach the sample to the already purchased product encouraging your customers to try out the product. This is known as a passive form of sampling.

Although this won't generate the same reciprocity feeling but it gets the product in the hands of your customers.

Offer Free Sample in Exchange for Specific Actions:

You can ask your customers to share reviews on social media, tag your brand on social media or like your posts in exchange for a free sample. This is an effective strategy to get brand awareness on social media and allow the customers to try your new product.


Now, you must have understood why brands use the free samples strategy right? For many years this strategy has been proven effective and even your brand should also use it.

The key thing here is that your sample and products should be of high quality. A good sample which provides a memorable experience would guarantee sales.

If your sample is not good it will create a bad image in the minds of the people. So, use the free sample strategy smartly and you will get the desired results.


What is product sampling?

Product sampling is a strategy where you provide free samples to your customers before they actually buy your product.

Are free samples successful?

Yes, free samples are very successful. They can create brand awareness and increase sales.

What are examples of product sampling in India?

People in the mall offering free snacks and getting a free small sachet of shampoo in the newspaper are all examples of product sampling in India.

Can product sampling be done by all the brands?

Yes, the majority of the brands use the product sampling strategy.

What is the main psychology behind free samples?

The main psychology behind free samples is the principle of reciprocity. When people get a free sample they will be obliged to return the favour in some way - buying your product.

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to StartupTalky.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to StartupTalky.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.