Three reasons why sampling works so well

Almost everyone enjoys receiving a sample. A free bottle of drink while you’re shopping, a tasty snack for the road or a free product with your online order, who wouldn’t want that? But why do we even like this and what does a brand do to get its product to catch on? In this article, we’ll show you the psychology behind sampling and tell you why consumers like samples so much.

Sampling works, but why?

Time and again, research shows that sampling works. For example, a whopping 53% of consumers report that they will proceed to purchase the product after receiving a sample. In addition, 77% say after receiving a sample they are encouraged to try another product from the same brand.So a sample can be very effective, but why? The success of sampling has several explanations. We mention three:

1. The DAGMAR model.

Sampling plays directly into a consumer’s attitude toward a product, also known as brand attitude. Several steps are taken to create a positive brand attitude among consumers. Using the DAGMAR model, it is easy to demonstrate exactly how this works.

The DAGMAR model is based on the stages a consumer goes through when making a purchase. It is also called the hierarchy-of-effects model because one stage in turn affects the next.

Below we briefly outline the four stages that lead to brand attitude:


First of all, it is important that a brand has something to offer that matches the category need of the consumer. If a product does not meet a consumer’s need, they will not be motivated to buy it either. In some categories, there is almost always a need such as for food or other foods. Other categories require the consumer to be reminded of the need.

Brand awareness

The next phase is brand awareness, this is the recognition and memory that consumers have with a brand. A sample is used to stimulate this brand awareness, also known as assisted brand awareness.

Brand knowledge

Next, the goal is to make the consumer aware of the brand’s features and benefits. This brand knowledge can be gained by receiving a sample of the product.

Brand attitude

Finally, we come to brand attitude: the consumer’s attitude toward the brand. It can be formed when the three phases above have been completed.

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

The influence of consumers on their environment should not be underestimated. In fact, research shows that consumers tend to 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 being granted something by a brand. This automatically creates a reaction of reciprocity: the consumer wants to do something in return and proceeds to purchase the product.

Sampling creates a bond between a brand and the consumer. If the consumer is satisfied with the product, it will almost certainly lead to a repeat purchase. Once a consumer is loyal to your brand, the brand’s only job is to keep them happy.

3. Quality time with consumers.

Finally, the success of sampling can also be explained by the additional time created with the consumer. When a brand makes a sample available, it is buying quality time with the consumer, so to speak.

Since consumers have the opportunity to try a product for free, they are likely to spend more time with the brand than they would have otherwise. That this is effective is evident: 42% of consumers say they switched from the brand they normally buy to the one they could try for free.


The psychology behind sampling has several explanations why it works so well: Sampling plays on brand attitude which often gives consumers a positive attitude towards the brand.Consumers are eager to give something back when they receive a free sample from a brand: the reciprocity effect. And a sample creates additional time with the consumer to try a product for free.