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Markets & trends

Product sampling remains a powerful strategy to promote brands to potential customers

Free samples often require a smaller investment than advertising while establishing a close relationship with the consumer and playing an important part in the path to purchase.

Cosmetic products usually have large advertising budgets, but in Brazil few manufacturers pin their bets on free samples, which is an important tool in allowing direct contact with customers. The efficiency of this strategy was validated by a survey carried out in 16 countries, including Brazil, by market research firm Euromonitor. The study showed that free samples were the fourth most important influencer for purchasing beauty products, losing out only to the customer’s previous experiences (with the brand or product), recommendations from relatives and friends, and price.

Manuella Bossa CEO of Truss

Manuella Bossa CEO of Truss

Perfumery is the category where samples have greatest importance, followed by colour cosmetics, skin care and hair care. Brazil ranked as the fourth most influenced from the 16 markets surveyed. France came first, followed by the U.S. and Spain.

Entrepreneur Camila Almeida, founder of the amostrasgratis.org website, believes that Brazilian companies should follow the U.S. trend and put more efforts into product sampling. “The investment is much lower and the return is far greater than a TV advert, for example. The manufacturer only has to pay for postage, as free samples are tax-free and distributed at cost price. Moreover, the strategy allows products to be sent directly to a targeted audience, which makes it more effective than promoting the brand randomly through adverts.

The website was created as a blog eight years ago, when Almeida commented on a glucose meter she received from a U.S. company. Some of her friends who had diabetes ordered the product and passed on the information to others. Now the website operates by bringing together and distributing free samples from different industries, as well as finding companies that offer them, and advising on how to order the samples. Users simply need to follow amostrasgratis.org’s page on Facebook and register. However, Almeida underscores the importance for consumers to only ask for products they are really interested in. “Companies offer samples to gain market penetration. If customers request items they do not use, this creates an unnecessary cost for the manufacturer, who may not have the expected return and, as a result, can suspend the activity.

Although product sampling does not require a huge investment, some brands choose to go big. Targeted at the professional hair care market, Brazil’s Truss Cosmetics invests R$ 300,000 to R$ 500,000 a month, says CEO Manuella Bossa. “It’s a large share of our marketing budget and provides substantial return on investment,” she adds.

Bossa says that besides the samples that are delivered by sales representatives to the beauty salons, there are also those that hairdressers can offer to their clients. The free samples are also distributed to users registered on their website, at trade shows and magazines inserts. “Samples are used to bring customers closer and allow them to experiment with the product. This, in turn, creates demand, brand awareness, and can be a decisive factor in the customer’s decision to purchase the product.

A survey carried out at the request of Brazil Beauty News in amostrasgratis.org’s Facebook page showed that 222 people claimed to have received free samples of cosmetics they had never used. Of these, 84% said they were happy with the product and would buy it. On the other hand, 14% said they liked the product, but would not buy it because it was too expensive. Just over 1% said they did not like the sample, but would try other products of the same brand and only one person said they did not like the sample and would not buy any other product from the same manufacturer.

When asked what they thought of companies that do not offer free samples, most users said they believe brands lose the opportunity to show the quality of their products and win customers. “The sample may not please everyone who tries it, but the fact that the company offered it creates credibility and trust in the brand. They may not use that product in particular, but still be a potential customer for the brand. Moreover, there is also the possibility that the product will go viral, as people like to post photos of what they receive and their friends end up getting to know the brand,” says Almeida.

Amanda Mont’Alvão Veloso

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© 2015 - Brazil Beauty News - www.brazilbeautynews.com

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