Samples: To Give or Not to Give?

Sara WagnerBusiness & Finance2 Comments

Today’s consumer is an interesting creature. They don’t want a product to be expensive, but scoff at products that are cheaply made. They expect coupons, deals and discounts on everything; even if you are already offering it at the lowest price possible. Coupons, deals and discounts can cost you quite a bit if you don’t plan carefully, and so can today’s consumer’s other obsession: samples.

To Give or Not to Give

There will be many situations where you may be asked for samples. For example, when you are selling at a craft fair, a potential customer may ask if they can try a bit of your soap before buying it. Local organizations may ask you for samples for goodie bags or raffles. So, should you say yes?

This isn’t so black and white. Your answer will depend on a number of different things; the purpose for the sample, how many samples are required, what products are being requested, and whether or not you get the feeling you are being taken advantage of.

Venue Samples

Say you’re at a show, and a customer approaches; he or she loves the way your soap looks and smells. However, this customer is concerned because she has sensitive skin, and asks if you would be willing to give her a sample to try before she buys.

In this case, the answer is yes. If a customer has a concern because of sensitive skin, giving them a sample and advising a patch test is a good idea. If your product does not produce a reaction, there is a good chance that they will continue to use it, and come back to you to buy more.

If you do not want to provide samples, this a good time to mention a testing station. By providing a basin with water for a customer to try a small sample of your soap, they experience the quality of your product with the product directly next to them. This can be a little tricky if you are showing in a place like a school, which might not have an easy to access place to dispose of the water.

Now, let’s say you are contacted by a local business. They are hosting a fundraiser and would like to include your products in the gift bags they are providing upon paid entry. You can include your business name and contact information with your product, and they will need 200 pieces.

Again, there is no black and white. In this situation, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

Is this a cause I feel comfortable associating my company with?

Is the request doable in the amount of time given? Will I be able to provide these products without affecting my day-to-day business? 

Is this my desired demographic? 

You are not selfish if you decide not to give. If the answers to these questions show that donating might not align with your business plan, don’t feel guilty not giving; it is most important that you donate only if it is suitable for your business to do so without undue stress.

When You Don’t Want to Give


In the case of the goodie bag/raffle situation, you could offer to donate a gift certificate instead of products. Gifting one or two gift certificates is a great way to stay involved without the stress of producing hundreds of samples or full size products.

Like we mentioned earlier, setting up a sample or test station at your booth is also a great idea. Consider buying a large plastic bottle with a spigot and a large, easy to clean bowl; keep the bottle full and have smaller pieces of your product on hand for customers to try, and small sample containers of scrubs too. Keep paper towels on hand so that they can dry their hands, and voila! They’ve tested your product, loved it, and are still standing next to their opportunity to own it!

Final Thoughts

Being asked to donate a sample can be a little overwhelming, especially if you are put on the spot. Make the decision before you attend an event if you are going to donate a product or not, and stick to it.

Do you give out samples at your shows, through your website or to organizations who request them? We want to know! Let us know in the comments section of the FB post for this article

2 Comments on “Samples: To Give or Not to Give?”

  1. Yes, I give out samples at markets and events. I make soap in the Crafters Choice 1502 silicone guest soap mold. Then cut slices about 1/8 inch thick – enough for a few hand washings or a couple of showers. I slip the sample and my card in a wax paper sleeve that I get at a restaurant supply house, write the name of the soap on the bag and have a basket of samples ready to pass out. Have had many new and repeat customers as a result. And, I have gifted samples for event gift bags and have had positive results.

A Penny For Your Thoughts...