Home Thinking Aloud Free Samples Can Boost Sales

Free Samples Can Boost Sales



I recently visited San Francisco and was astounded by the American retail culture.  It was simply amazing how vendors were so open in letting you taste and experience their products, allowing you to seriously consider and try before purchasing.


boudin bakery


For example, the Boudin Bakery in Fisherman’s Wharf allowed you to try some of their breads, including their famous sourdough loaf, after you toured their food museum (which cost US$3).


see's chocs


If you stepped into most See’s candy stores, retail staff will cheerfully offer you samples of chocolate to try (above)!

Even at the San Francisco Ferry Building farmer’s market, every stall was cheerfully handing out samples.


apple samples


A fruit vendor carefully lays out a variety of beautifully-cubed apples for passers-by to try.


nuts about nuts


Here a nice lady hands out nuts for people to try.  After sampling their cajun-spiced almonds and butter-toffee coated almonds, I succumbed to temptation and bought a few packets.


oil and bread


A vendor selling naturally pressed olive oil products lays out bread cubes so you can try out their flavoured oils.  Judging by the number of people who were buying bottles of the stuff, it must have been a successful tactic.



ice cream sample


A man in an ice-cream parlour at The Cannery (Del Monte‘s first canning plant, now refurbished into a shopping destination) handed us a sample of their home-made ice cream. Yum!  And yes, I dutifully succumbed to my sweet tooth.

Perhaps the following sign sums up the “go-ahead-and-try” attitude the best:


sampling sign


If you can’t read it, it says “Sampling is mandatory! We’re watching!”.  How precious.

“Sampling is expensive and not practical, especially in a culture where people are cheap,” I hear you say.  I think it may be even more expensive in the long run if you don’t try.

If you run a retail store and have products that are suitable for this tactic (or even if you run just a tiny push-cart business), seriously consider using samples to entice and convert interested passers-by into actual customers.


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