Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Give Free Samples of New Products

Vendors introducing a new item might have you offer the item as a gift when the shopper buys at the regular price another item already attractive to the same target markets. The idea is that the shopper will enjoy the new item so much they'll start purchasing it regularly.
     This is a wonderful way to quickly build kickoff sales. But be sure the free product is presented as a sample. In consumer behavior studies conducted at UC Berkeley, USC, Stony Book University, and Indiana University, researchers found that if a product is offered for free, the shopper becomes less likely to buy the product at full price afterwards. What happens is that when getting it at no charge, consumers conclude consciously or subconsciously that the product must be low quality. This is a terrible first impression to leave with the consumer about a new product. It also makes you look bad for giving what appears to be a low-quality gift.
     The way to avoid this problem, some of the researchers discovered, was to be blatantly honest with the customer. Tell the shopper in signage, advertising, and salesperson-customer conversation that the free item is being offered as a sample because you believe the shopper will enjoy the product and want to buy it in the future.
     That much you can do yourself. But there are two related tactics for which the manufacturer and/or supplier can help: The free product should be clearly labeled as a sample, and it's best if the free item is in a size smaller than any of the standard sizes offered for sale. Also, because developing habits of purchase requires making more than one buy in a row, attached to the free sample should be a coupon for a customer discount on the next purchase.

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