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Psychology behind sampling: 3 reasons why it works so well

psychologie achter sampling

Almost everyone likes to receive a sample. A free soda bottle while you are shopping, a tasty snack on the go or a free product with your online order, who wouldn’t like that?

But why do we actually like this so much and what does a brand need to do to bring the product to the attention? In this article, we’ll show you the psychology behind sampling and tell you why consumers like samples so much.

Product sampling

A brand distributes samples of its product to bring it to the attention of the consumer. Money is invested to offer the samples, with results.

No less than 53% of consumers indicate that they buy the product after receiving a sample. In addition, after receiving a sample, 77% say they were encouraged to try another product from the same brand.

So, a sample can be very effective, but how exactly does this work? The success of sampling has several explanations. We mention three:

1. The DAGMAR model

Sampling responds directly to a consumer’s attitude towards a product, also known as the brand attitude. Several steps are taken to create a positive brand attitude with the consumer. The DAGMAR model makes it possible to demonstrate clearly how this works.

The DAGMAR model is based on the phases that a consumer goes through when making a purchase. It is also referred to as the hierarchy of effects model because one phase has an effect on the next.

Below we briefly show the different phases that lead to a brand attitude:

Category need

First of all, it is important that a brand has something to offer that matches the category of consumer needs. If a product does not meet the needs of a consumer, he will not be motivated to buy it. In some categories there is almost always a need, such as with food. In other categories, consumers need to be reminded of the need.

Brand awareness

The next phase is brand awareness, this is the recognition and memory that the consumer has with a brand. A sample stimulates this brand awareness, also known as aided brand awareness.

Brand knowledge

Subsequently, the intention is to make the consumer aware of the characteristics and advantages of the brand. This brand knowledge can be gained by receiving a sample of the product.

Brand attitude

Finally, the attitude of the consumer towards the brand. This can be formed when the three above phases have been completed.

The goal is to create a positive attitude towards the brand. This can be done through proper sampling. When the brand attitude is positive, the consumer is more likely to make a purchase and recommend the brand to others.

The influence of the consumer on his environment should not be underestimated. Research has shown that consumers mainly buy products that others also buy, in order to be sure of a good purchase.

2. The reciprocity effect

Another factor that makes sampling effective is the reciprocity effect. This effect occurs when a consumer experiences that a brand grants him something. This automatically creates a reciprocal response: the consumer wants to give something back and proceeds to purchase the product.

Sampling creates a bond between a brand and the consumer. When the consumer is satisfied with the product, this will almost certainly lead to a repeat purchase. Once a consumer is loyal to your brand, the only job of the brand is to keep them satisfied.


3. Quality time 

Finally, the success of sampling can also be explained by the extra time that is created with the consumer. When a brand makes a sample available, it buys quality time with the consumer, as it were.

Since consumers are given the opportunity to try a product for free, they are likely to spend more time on the brand than they would have otherwise. It appears that this is effective: 42% of consumers indicate that they have switched from the brand they normally buy to the brand that they could try for free.


So the psychology behind sampling has several explanations why it works so well:

  • Sampling responds to the brand attitude, so that consumers often have a positive attitude towards the brand.
  • Consumers would like to give something back when they receive a free sample of a brand: the reciprocity effect.
  • A sample creates extra time with the consumer to try a product for free.

Do you want more information about sampling or are you interested in sampling a product? Please do not hesitate to contact us!

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