|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (June 2008)|
A free sample or "freebie" is a portion of food or other product (for example, beauty products) given to consumers in shopping malls, supermarkets, retail stores, or through other channels (such as via the Internet). Sometimes samples of non-perishable items are included in direct marketing mailings. The purpose of a free sample is to acquaint the consumer with a new product, and is similar to the concept of a test drive, in that a customer is able to try out a product before purchasing it.
Although an expensive method of targeting customers, conversions to sales can range between 20% to 90% for various brands. With effective sampling, marketers can create brand loyalty and assist in the launch of a product through the word of mouth.
Many consumer product companies now offer free samples through their websites, to encourage consumers to use the products regularly, and to gather data for mailing lists of potentially interested customers. Paint chips are samples of paint colors that are sometimes offered as free samples.
The expansion of online marketing with regards to promotional giveaways has facilitated the rise of "Freebie sites" that seek to aggregate all promotional free sample offers in one place. These sites will often compile free product samples from all over the World Wide Web and categorize them by type. Some product sample offers may require consumers to complete a survey or refer a friend in order to qualify for the freebies. When all requirements are fulfilled, the product samples are shipped to the consumer.
In 1987 C. A. Courtesy became the first demonstration company to secure exclusivity with a retailer.
It is also possible to purchase products in small "trial size" containers. This is common with toiletries such as shampoo, which are useful for vacations or other travel, where large bottles or other containers would be impractical (or more recently, not permitted for air travel). These are also often provided in hotel and motel rooms for the guests. Samples may also be loaned to the customer if they are too valuable to be given for free, such as samples of a countertop or of carpet to be used for remodeling.
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- International Convention to Facilitate the Importation of Commercial Samples and Advertising Material
- De Bower, Herbert Francis= (1919). Advertising principles. Original from the University of California: Alexander Hamilton Institute (U.S.). p. 156.
- "Product Sampling: Costly but Effective". FMCG Ireland. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
- "Find a Grave". Benjamin T. Babbitt. Retrieved September 7, 2008.
- Piers Plowman, C-text, Passus I, line 228