BEAUTY SAMPLES: ORGANIC MARKETING'S GOLDEN CHILD
So I received yet another order from Sephora this week, and once I calmed down from the hysterical state I worked myself into over the products I ordered (which took about half an hour) I spent about the same amount of time looking at and getting just as excited over the other stuff in the box.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m talking about beauty samples.
If you’re a regular at Sephora, you probably already snagged one of their seasonal sample bags with your order. On top of the 3 free samples with every order. Let me just say, I go CRAZY for those!
First of all, as a blogger and a girl who just LOVES beauty, I find it really cool to have the opportunity to test so many products without actually buying full-sizes. Which would litteraly cost me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Yes, I get a lot of beauty samples!
There’s also the obvious attraction to free stuff. Like, who doesn’t like a freebie, am I right?!
But as an entrepreneur who studied marketing and is fascinated by business and PR, I can’t help but be mesmerized by the whole concept of beauty samples. Not only do I know they work, but I’m actually happy to buy a product (and spend money) after I fell in love with it using a sample.
To put it bluntly and get crystal clear, in my opinion, if you have a beauty company and you’re not playing the sample game, you’re doing it wrong! Let me explain:
First, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like a free sample, but most people would probably explain it with the simple fact that it lets them try something before actually spending money on it.
In itself, that’s a great argument for beauty samples, but it’s actually much more elaborate and deeper than that. It has a lot to do with human behaviour and psychology.
Indeed, it’s a very well-known principle in marketing that people are much likelier to act and take risks if they’re about to loose something they already have, than to gain something new.
In my opinion, that fact alone should be enough for any beauty company owner to start shitting samples quicker than it takes to say lipstick.
Because that means that someone is much likelier to throw 68$ on a moisturizer after trying it once and liking it than they are because of a great ad campaign, a cool Instagram profile or even a collaboration with an it girl influencer*.
If you read attentively, you noticed that I put “and liking it ” in italics. Because obviously, if someone hates your sample, they won’t buy your product. But that’s a good thing. A really good thing. Why? Let’s see…
Let’s just say average Nancy buys your 68$ moisturizer. She didn’t get a sample, no one told her about it, she just saw an ad and she got it. She tried it, and she fucking hates it. What is Nancy gonna do?
Because people are much more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one (and with almost three times the amount of people!), she’s gonna go online, either on social media or on a website that specializes in customer reviews, and she’s gonna bash the hell out of it.
She’s gonna say the price was ridiculously high, it was a waste of time and money, it didn’t do anything good for her and she doesn’t recommend it to anyone. Don’t believe me? Go to sephora.com right now and I guarantee you’ll see tons of these frustrated reviews, even on products that you use and absolutely LOVE.
And I’m not even talking about returned products here, and every business owner selling a physical product knows how costly that is. So first lesson, not only are samples a great way to show your potential clients what they’re missing if they don’t buy your product, but a lot of bad reviews can be avoided with samples, as well as costly returns.
On a side note, I’ve discovered and bought several beauty products because of samples, from brands like Glamglow, Smashbox, Clinique, Kate Sommerville and basically every single perfume I’ve ever bought.
But there’s even more to it than consumer behaviour. There’s also a whole lot that has to do with perception. How many people do you know hate infomercials and think they’re stupid and ridiculous? Personally, I know a lot, myself included. Because in my opinion, if it takes 3 people 40 minutes to explain why your product is so good, maybe it’s not that good. And you always have to call NOW before this “great deal” expires… More like before you change your mind.
A sample, on the other hand, screams confidence in your product. It says “I think my product is so great, that here you go, try it for free, and buy it whenever the fuck you’d like. And I know that my product is so good that you’re gonna go buy it right away!”
If that doesn’t convince a customer, they’re not the customer for you. A non-beauty company that understands this concept really well is Third Love. And they make bras. Not exactly the kind of product you can give a sample for. But the smart people at Third Love were so convinced that their product is THE shit, that if you buy a bra from them, all you have to pay is shipping and they’ll send you the bra for free, so you can try it on for 30 days. If you don’t like it, just send it back and they won’t charge you. If you love it, just keep it and they’ll charge your card for the bra. That’s insane! But they’re so sure that their bra is amazing that they’re willing to take that risk. Now if that doesn’t send the message that their product is great, nothing will.
So to sum it, not only is a sample a great incitative to buy your product, it’s also a great safety net to keep the "bad fit" customers (the ones that don't like your brand) away, while sending the message that your brand is strong and confident and that your product is great.
If you’re an entrepreneur in an industry that makes it easy to provide samples (beauty) for fuck’s sake, take advantage of it. You’re lucky, you don’t even have to come up with a super creative and higher risk way to make people try your product like the people at Third Love did, so why miss the chance to let people see how great your product is and gain some loyal customers who will love you…
If you’re the owner of a small business, whether beauty-related or not, hit me up! I love discovering new brands and badass entrepreneurs. You can get in touch by leaving a comment below, emailing me, or on Instagram.
Love, Jenny xx
* I’m not saying influencer marketing is not efficient, in fact, I’m a really, really strong believer in it. Because I live on Earth in 2018 and my head is out of my ass. My point is simply that trying it for themselves is the best way to get people to spend on your product, because most people trust their own judgment more than anyone else’s. Obviously, the best way to gain popularity in this day and age is through social media and influencer marketing, but that’s a whole other story (and yes, there’s a post coming on that too).