Can You Use Costco’s Free Sample Strategy?

The other day, my wife and kids came home from a Costco shopping trip and I noticed they were unpacking several food items I had never seen before.

When I asked my wife Becky about it, she informed me that they happened to visit Costco during one of their infamous food sampling sessions and my teen-aged kids fell victim to this immensely successful sales strategy.

Teenagers and Costco food samples are a sure recipe for buying items you didn’t know existed or needed.  As an aside here is an interesting article about the psychology behind Costco’s free samples from The Atlantic and a quick Google search leads to many other related articles you might find interesting.

Allowing prospects the opportunity to “dip their toe in the water” and try before they buy can be a smart strategy when the economics and logistics make sense and in this article, I want to get you thinking about how you might leverage this in your business.

When you look at your products and services, remember that many are best experienced, and your job is to figure out how to remove as much perceived risk as possible and enable prospects to “see themselves” using your product or service.

Years ago, before we purchased a new model SUV, we went through the effort to rent one for a weekend to make it worked the way we needed it to.  While the typical 10-minute test-drive is useful, a more extended one assured us this was a smart decision for our family.

Much more recently we purchased a new sofa and the way we bought it was much different than the way we purchased a previous sofa just a few years ago.  In the first case we went to the store, plopped down on what looked like a comfortable sofa and bought it, all in a span of about 20 minutes.

It only took a day or two after getting it home to realize we made a mistake and our short, in-store test-drive was insufficient for the actual way we use it.

Fast-forward to our recent purchase where we spent much more time trying out the sofa in the normal way we use it – shoes off and feet up.  Even with this more extensive test-drive, I was still a bit apprehensive and during the whole process was wishing for a better way to try the sofa out.

My long-time mastermind group members, Jeff Giagnocavo and Ben McClure, have solved this problem for mattress buyers with their world-famous Dream Room™ which allows people to try out a specific mattress in a private, upscale room in their store for a few hours.

So instead of the five-minute, sit-on-it and press-it-down method of testing a mattress, the Dream Room allows serious shoppers to try out a mattress in the same way they would use it at home.

Another mastermind group member, and independent pharmacist, Frank Lombardo is doing the same thing with an all-natural supplement, GABA Complex, that promotes relaxation and better sleep.  He knows once somebody tries GABA Complex, they tend to remain customers for a long time, which is why he offers a sample bottle for free – the same exact strategy used by Costco.

Done properly try-before-you-buy/test-drive experiences can result in more sales and happier customers and it’s a worthy exercise to figure out a way to leverage in your business.

What can you do in your business to allow a test-drive experience for your products/services?

  • Can you offer a more realistic, this-is-how-you-will-use-it experience?
  • Can you offer a sample size?
  • Can you rent out your product for a few hours?
  • Can you offer some sort of in-person experience?
  • In cases where none of this is possible, can you offer an amazing guarantee, essentially giving your customers a test-drive experience?

Investing some time thinking about this might just uncover a game-changer strategy for your business.  If you’ve implemented some sort of Costco-like strategy in your business, leave a comment below and let others know about it!

About the Author Mike Capuzzi

I'm a speaker, author and high impact marketing strategist for business owners and sharp, aggressive entrepreneurs looking to get to the next level in their business. I'm also the the inventor of the world-famous CopyDoodles. CopyDoodles are the world's largest library of handwritten fonts, hand-drawn doodles, comics and more designed to grab attention and boost your marketing results!

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