In the world of food retailing marketers like Costco have found that samples can boost sales. Some products have seen increases of 2000% according to an Atlantic report by Joe Pinsker in 2014. Sampling in stores is effective because the product is available immediately from the display and customers can make the decision to purchase right away.
What happens when companies give out samples on the street? This is a popular strategy exhibited in my neighborhood in Manhattan where there is a lot of foot traffic. Usually the company reps simply hand out the samples without any knowledge of the recipients or any follow up. Strong marketing is built on the notion of knowing your target and building relationships. Handing out samples to an anonymous group limits the ability of a company to track the result. These days analytics are a requirement for any strategy, so why should companies rely on blind faith for their expensive sampling efforts?
One option that seems to work well in Hong Kong is to give samples only to those who provide follow up information. This is now very easy to do with mobile. In these photos reps of BioEssence are giving products to those who log their email addresses so that the company can reach them later. Not only that, but the added step means that only motivated interested customers will take the time to participate.