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Distributing free product samples is an important tool in sales promotion. An actual or trial-sized product is distributed to the consumers in order to provide them an opportunity to experience the product where they would not otherwise get to try it unless they bought it on their own.

Free samples are usually distributed during a new product launch or when the company wants to capture increased market share for the product. Samples can be distributed using direct mail, coupons in newspapers and magazines, door-to-door delivery, in-pack sampling, the Internet and in-store sampling.
In direct mail sampling, free sample products are directly mailed to homes that are targeted based on geo-demographic characteristics. Newspapers can be used for broad-scale sampling. Door-to-door free product sample delivery saves costs like packaging costs that are incurred when direct mailing is used. It allows considerable targeting and has shorter lead times. In-pack sampling uses the package of some other product to carry the free sample product. Some of the product samples are distributed in high traffic locations like theatres, and shopping malls. In-store shopping is the most frequently used method for distributing free samples. Usually, consumers in a retail shop or a grocery store are provided with free product samples for a trial experience. This free sampling often also leads to increased impulse purchases. Several companies also allow consumers to request free samples using their websites.

Usually companies have limited stocks to be distributed as free samples and consumers who would like to request free samples using coupons or the Internet should send in a request as early as possible.

Product samples are distributed when the desired impact cannot be produced by advertising alone and the cost of distributing samples is reasonable. There are many challenges faced by the product companies, mostly concerning free samples center around a return on their investment and the proper choice of target customers.

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