Skip to content

Encouraging Product Trials : Free Samples and Discounts

    Encouraging Product Trials

    Promotional tactics such as free samples and discounts are often used to encourage consumers to participate in product trials.


    Give examples of incentives used to encourage product trials


    Key Points

    • Adjusting price, product, and place enhances both the trial offer and appeal of the final product or service for consumers.
    • Repackaging the offering so that consumers can test the product allows them to assess whether product benefits outweigh price and other factors during the buying process.
    • Radio and television advertisements, public relations events, and mailings comprise some of the tools companies use to promote the availability and appeal of product trials.

    Key Terms

    • opt-in: The property of having to choose explicitly to join or permit something; a decision having the default option being exclusion or avoidance; used particularly with regard to mailing lists and advertisement.

    Encourage Product Trial

    Running a product trial is a common promotional tactic used by brands looking to enter a new market, release a new product, or increase existing sales. It is particularly useful for targeting specific audiences who are loyal to specific brands or are price-conscious. Product trials include free samples, price reductions, or other purchase incentives designed to encourage consumer use during and after the trial.

    A sign that says "free samples."

    Free Samples: As part of product trials, companies offer free samples to customers.

    Product trials are useful when companies need to adjust parts of their marketing communications strategy to successfully target a market segment. For example, college students may be particularly budget-conscious and choose products based on price rather than quality or popularity. Repackaging the offering so that students can “test drive” the product allows students to assess whether product benefits outweigh price and other factors during the buying process.

    Promotional Tactics

    To encourage consumers to participate in free trials, brands can bundle their offers with other incentives and discounts. Perks such as free shipping and handling and future coupons can all drive consumers toward making a purchase after the end of the free trial period.

    Adjusting these three variables – price, product, and place (distribution or location) – enhances both the trial offer and the appeal of the final product or service. Developing communications for selected audiences most receptive to the brand’s offer, reduces time and money spent on implementing promotional programs.

    Some of the promotional tactics companies employ to encourage consumer participation in product trials include:

    • Advertising in media that target consumers are most likely to read or listen to.
    • Sponsoring or exhibiting at an event related to the target consumers’ interests and following up with press coverage in local and national publications.
    • Using an opt-in database to send mail-outs or email newsletters with information on how to take advantage of the product trial and related promotions.
    • Promote the product trial online via websites, social media, and paid and non-paid search marketing programs.

    Stimulating Demand

    For brands to successfully stimulate consumer demand, they must understand consumer needs and motives.


    Discuss the psychological factors that drive consumer demand, and how they play into marketing segmentation


    Key Points

    • Before a consumer is motivated to purchase a product, there must be a physical, mental, or emotional need for the product or service.
    • The source of motivation driving consumer demand can be internal, environmental, or psychological.
    • Studies on consumer motivation have led to the development of segmentation or personality profiles that factor traits such as age, sex, income, and lifestyle.
    • Companies can tailor their marketing communications strategy based on consumer segmentation to stimulate demand for products and services.

    Key Terms

    • latent: Existing or present but concealed or inactive.
    • segmentation: The act or an instance of dividing into segments.
    • value proposition: The benefit (such as profit or convenience) offered by an organization’s product or service.
    • personality: a set of qualities that make a person (or thing) distinct from another

    Stimulate Demand

    Factoring consumer wants and needs is an essential component to assembling a successful marketing communications strategy. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most companies focused on producing products and services with little emphasis on customer needs and wants. Greater attention was given to the product or service, rather than understanding consumer behavior.

    Customers shop in a grocery store.

    Stimulate Demand: To stimulate demand, brands must understand customers’ needs and motives.

    Given the emergence of globalization and information technologies in the last decade, new markets and increased competition have forced marketers to modify the traditional approach to marketing communications. Companies are now increasingly focusing on how to stimulate consumer demand and compete for customer loyalty. For brands to successfully compete, they must understand the consumer needs that lie at the center of marketing communications.

    Deconstructing Motivation

    For there to be a demand for products and services, there must be consumer need and motivation. The field of psychology defines motive as the inner drive or pressure to take action to satisfy a need. Motives produce goals, which can be positive or negative for the individual. In all cases, the need must be aroused or stimulated to a high enough level so that it can serve as a motive. It is possible and common to have latent needs that do not serve as the motive of behavior. The sources of this arousal may be internal (such as hunger); environmental (viewing a McDonald’s advertisement); or psychological (thoughts about food, which can cause hunger). For motivation to be useful in stimulating demand for products, brands must understand what motives and behaviors are influenced by the specific situation in which consumers engage in goal-directed, problem-solving behavior.

    The difficulty of defining motives and dealing with motivation in consumer research accounts for its limited application in marketing. For the most part, the research in motivation involves benefit segmentation and patronage motives. Patronage motives typically concern the consumer’s reasons for shopping at a particular outlet. Benefit segmentation may include consumer labels such as price-conscious, convenience-oriented, service-oriented, or other motivation features. Factors including age, sex, lifestyle, profession, income, educational level, and personal interests have all been used to assemble personality profiles designed to decode consumer motives.

    The Psychology Behind Demand

    Knowing the basic personality traits of target customers can be useful information for companies when designing and implementing marketing communications campaigns. Promotional tactics such as contests might appeal to suburban moms, but be ignored by single, urban professionals. Nevertheless, marketers have found personality to be difficult to apply in marketing strategy. This is primarily due to the lack of metrics for assessing personality traits. Most available measures were originally developed to identify people with mental problems. These have little value or application for consumers who are mentally healthy. As a result, most marketers have turned to lifestyle analysis.

    Lifestyle is one of the newer and increasingly important sets of factors being used to understand consumer behavior behind demand. Lifestyle has been generally defined as the attitudes, interests, and opinions of the potential customer. Such variables as interests in hunting, attitudes toward gender equality, and opinions on the importance of stylish clothing can be used to better understand consumer behavior. Lifestyle segmentation is one tool used by brands to connect their value proposition to the needs of particular individuals rather than large, undefined demographics. As a result, companies can tailor communications and promotional offers that target identifiable groups and stimulate their continued demand for products and services.

    Open chat
    Scan the code
    Can we help you?