Free samples build trust when you’re a food entrepreneur. A few months ago, a new Publix grocery store opened in my neighborhood. It was a grand event, with balloons, big smiles from the employees and lots of free samples. There were cups of wine, free recipes, free product samples, and free reusable grocery bags, you name it they had it.
It’s no secret, shoppers love free samples; it gets them excited, they feel like they’re getting something for nothing, not to mention an opportunity to sample a product without purchasing it.
Do freebies work for food entrepreneurs? Yes, they do! Free samples help you connect with customers, and although this will cost you money, at the micro-level, it will pay off in the long run.
Free Samples and Cottage Foods
There are commercial companies that spend millions on sampling stations in big box stores and grocery markets. This practice works since it gets the customer to try your product without putting up a price barrier.
Remember, the customer thinks they are getting something for free and may feel obligated to purchase your product because it’s not only delicious but supports local business.
If you can stand before the shopper with a smile, a delicious product, and the shopper takes the bait, you will have successfully completed your job. If the shopper buys your product, you win the sale. If they come back for more, you now have a repeat customer who feeds your wallet and builds your customer base.
Free Sample Products
- Keep all samples “bite-size” or smaller.
- Keep the sampling area clean.
- Use disposable plastic or wooden sampling spoons.
- Offer mini waters if the sample leaves a spicy hot or super sweet aftertaste.
Bring enough samples for the number of visitors that ‘normally’ attend the farmers market or the event. (For example, if there are 300 people expected for a 5-hour event, 300/5 means you’re serving about 60 samples per hour.
Adjust this amount up or down, and remember, it is alright to run out of samples. Have shoppers join your email list (write down their name and email address). And invite them back for samples the next time you are at the farmers’ market or event location.
Looking for tiny sampling cups with or without lids? These are some I have used in the past. Use sample cups with lids so your product can be eaten at any time and is less likely to be compromised by insects.
- Plastic Disposable Portion Cups w/lids 1 oz. (100 pk)
- Plastic Disposable Portion Cups w/lids 2 oz. (100 pk)
- Plastic Disposable Portion Cups without/lids 2 oz. (250 pk)
- Sampler Spoons (wooden) (1000 pk)
- Sampler Spoons (plastic) (3000 pk)
Remember, most cottage food states have strict guidelines on how sample foods should be packaged and even labeled. Check the Foodpreneur Institute Cottage Food map for your cottage food requirements, and check out How to Sell Your Foods at a Festival.