Free samples. Two words that have captured the hearts of consumers for years. Amazon is now taking this strategy to the next level with a new program that lets brands like Maybelline and Folgers pay to send free samples to consumers based on what they’re likely to buy. While not every initiative the retail giant has put into place can be employed by other brands, the sampling strategy is one promising play that can.

Consumers covet samples. In fact, 5% of the top queries related to “fragrance” reference samples, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty. Yet only 27% of studied beauty brands offered samples during the period—3% down from the year before.

At the same time, sampling took on a new and improved format across the brands that were using it and particularly across color cosmetics brands. In Q3, Gartner L2 observed growth in the share of samples containing multiple shades of a particular product, accounting for more than a quarter of all samples offered on brand.com sites. In contrast, packet samples—which offer just one shade—were offered by 10% fewer brands when compared to the same period last year.  Urban Decay, for example, doled out four foundation shades, while luxury label Givenchy offered up three of its best-selling lipstick shades in one sample.

As the sampling strategy becomes more and more sophisticated, brands that have not yet made use of the method will have further to climb to keep up with the retail landscape. Perhaps acting on Amazon’s new program, which goes out to over a million subscribers, could be a low-risk way for these brands to sample sampling.

Daily Insights in Your Inbox

Edit your preferences or unsubscribe