Is Sampling the Best Way to Drive Trial of a New Product?

Generosity can be a powerful sales method.

This series revisits the basics of branding and marketing by answering questions marketers, entrepreneurs and small business owners face when growing their business. I hope this series provides you with knowledge to think smarter and a nudge to make stuff happen.

Is Sampling the Best Way to Drive Trial of a New Product?

“Give, and you shall receive.” It’s an old and overused proverb. And for good reason… it works.

The more kindness we give others, the more kindness we receive. The more knowledge we share with others, the more knowledge we personally receive in return. The more generous we are, the more generously we profit.

This principle of generosity applies directly to sampling and to Starbucks. It can be argued the Starbucks business was built on sampling generously.

To find success during its high-growth years, Starbucks had to dramatically and demonstratively change people’s understanding of what coffee could (and should) taste like.

Back when Starbucks was a small company acting big, sampling of coffees and espresso drinks happened all day log. When you visited a Starbucks, chances were, there would be a taster-cup sample of a just-made drink ready for the tasting. Sampling became ingrained as part of the Starbucks business culture as the more customers tasted, the more they believed that coffee should taste just like that.

Tasting is more than believing at Starbucks, it’s also sales-driving. I remember an internal company study that revealed for every five beverages Starbucks sampled to customers, it triggered a purchase. That’s an impressive 20 percent conversion rate.

What other form of marketing has a 20% conversion rate? None come to mind.

It would be short-sighted of me to say sampling is THE best way to drive sales of a new product. However, my experience at Starbucks tells me sampling is highly effective in creating awareness which leads to trial and can result in higher sales.


#01 | How Should a Brand be Defined?
#02 | What’s the Difference between Branding and Marketing?
#03 | Is there a Difference between a Company Name and a Brand Name?
#04 | Does every Brand need a Unique Selling Position?
#05 | Do Consumers Really Feel Emotional about Brands?
#06 | How should “Brand Personality” be Described?
#07 | Are Taglines Important? Why or Why Not?
#08 | Are Logos Important? Why or Why Not?
#09 | Can a Brand be Built without a Large Budget?
#10 | Why is a Brand Style Guide important?
#11 | What are Key Components to Include in a Brand Style Guide?
#12 | How Rigid Should a Brand Style Guide Be?
#13 | The Brand Style Guide is Built. Now What?
#14 | What Matters Most to Consumers: Brand, Price, or Convenience?
#15 | Does a Company’s Mission Statement Play a Role in Marketing the Brand?
#16 | How can Business Operations Support the Brand Promise?
#17 | How do you get Employees to “Live the Brand”?
#18 | Do all Marketing Activities need a Strong Call to Action?
#19 | Do Brands need to be Marketed Differently Depending on their Stage of Life?
#20 | What Role does Promotion Play in Effective Marketing?
#21 | How Connected should PR efforts be to Marketing efforts?
#22 | At the Retail Level, What do Effective In-Store Campaigns Look Like?
#23 | How Valuable are Loyalty Programs?
#24 | Is Sampling the Best Way to Drive Trial of a New Product?