Free Sample!

Posted By Debbie on January 6, 2014

Categories: Business

Tags: advertising, free, sample, tv

There are two commercials I’ve seen a lot lately. Both offer “free samples” of their products.

One commercial is for catheters. I guess I watch TV targeted at the catheter user. These commercials act like they have a new style catheter you will like much more, so call now for your free sample.

But read the fine print

I try to read the fine print on every commercial and ad. The micro type at the end of these commercials say that your free sample comes with your order for a 90-day supply of catheters. This doesn’t make sense to me for two reasons.

  1. You offered a free sample. Can’t people just get a free sample? I guess this where “no purchase necessary” comes in.
  2. If you are trying to introduce me to a new product I’ve never tried, I might want those new ones you want me to try! Why make me order 90 days of something I either haven’t tried yet or might not like, or are my old style?

Nutrasystem is doing it too.

I’ve been seeing these Dan Marino Nutrasystem commercials too. I guess I watch TV aimed at overweight men who use catheters. The commercial keeps plugging how you can get 5 free days of food. I would THINK that’s to try Nutrasystem for a week or so and make sure you like the food before you subscribe. And I mean subscribe. Nutrasystem puts you on “auto shipping” which is also auto billing where every month, you get what they decide is a month of food.

But the fine print says that the 5 free days of food will come with your first order of 28 days of food when you sign up for the monthly subscription plan. Ummmmm. Maybe I wanted the free sample to make sure I’d like the program before I spend $250+ on that first order.

It’s about company obstacles vs. customer obstacles.

I guess in each scenario, someone at these companies decided that hearing FREE draws people in, which it surely can. And then someone decided not to give free samples ahead of time. Make people put in a full order.

That could be an obstacle to someone becoming a customer. They may want to try you before they buy you. If you have a ship-able product, why not try that route?

The obstacle for the company is customer service time (if it’s phoned in vs. ordered online) and then logistics (packing and shipping a free sample). What does that worker time really cost when you already have a huge logistics operation shipping prepackaged meals or medical supplies? Has anyone measured if people are more likely to become a customer – or stay a customer longer – if they got a free sample first?

Read the fine print. Your free sample may be free, but it may not really be a “try this sample before you buy” plan.