MMNPL 2017 Insight: Free Samples Pay Off In Influence

MMNPL 2017 Insight: Free Samples Pay Off In Influence

The following insight is from our 2017 Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey, scroll down to download the full eBook. 

In the era of “fake news,” who can consumers trust? The answer increasingly seems to be themselves.

After 2006, we started including MMNPL survey questions about what information sources (or media) consumers use to learn about new products. We also ask which sources most influence their purchase decisions.

free samples graphicIn the recession years and right up until the economy was well on its way to recovery in 2012, we saw that free samples, coupons and recommendations from family and friends were very highly influential to purchase decisions. Over the next few years, the number of people citing free samples, coupons or recommendations influencing their purchasing decisions steadily declined.

While our economy is thriving, free samples have remained a high level of stated influence, with 84 percent of consumers. We believe this could be because in an era of people screaming “fake news” why bother trusting an advertisement or influencer when you can try a product and just see for yourself?

Another interesting find was that coupons had slightly less impact in 2017 with 24 percent of consumers citing them as influential, down from 28 percent in 2016. This slight dip could signal that consumers may still be more optimistic about the state of our economy than they were last year.

When people feel secure about the economy they’re generally less risk-adverse.

If consumers see a slow job market, stagnant wage growth, or a plummeting stock market they’re less likely to be buying things they don’t need. During the recession, retailers needed to use a coupon to lure shoppers in-store or online. This growing consumer confidence means retailers can slowly start dialing back reliance on coupons, even though they can still be a driver of sales once awareness is established.

Another interesting finding, although TV is cited as the most frequently used source with 62 percent of survey participants citing it, free samples were 43 percent more effective in terms of overall influence. This could be because it’s easier to trust the quality of a product when you’ve tried it yourself than it is to rely on the word of an actor in an advertisement who has a vested interest in seeing the product succeed.

Based on our results, marketers should consider offering more free samples and rewards to shoppers who refer their friends and family members. People are becoming increasingly skeptical of the news and TV so what better way to get them to use their product than by hooking them with a free sample. Consumers have nothing to lose when accepting a free sample and can decide for themselves if they like the product and want to buy it. Retailers should also incentivize consumers who write and share reviews and testimonials with friends and family.


free samples graph


Our 2017 Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey is available for download from the form below:

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Schneider Associates is one of the leading Boston PR firms and integrated marketing agencies successfully launching and accelerating visibility and growth for new products, services, companies, institutions, and communities through a mix of traditional public relations and marketing programs, digital marketing and social media strategies, influencer and experiential campaigns. We also specialize in public affairs, reputation management and crisis communications programs. Schneider Associates is certified by SOMWBA as a woman-owned business.