Why You May Be More Likely To Buy Food After Trying Free Samples

Why You May Be More Likely To Buy Food After Trying Free Samples

Free samples may have a bigger psychological effect on you than you think, according to behavioural economist Dan Ariely. The Atlantic studied the underlying psychological factors in comparing customer’s taking samples and purchasing patterns.

Picture: Lori L. Stalteri/Flickr

Even if you think you won’t be compelled to buy the product, your brain may want to:

…samples are operating on a more subconscious level as well. “Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct,” says Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist at Duke University. “If somebody does something for you” — such as giving you a quarter of a ravioli on a piece of wax paper — “you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them.”

Ariely adds that free samples can make forgotten cravings become more salient. “What samples do is they give you a particular desire for something,” he says. “If I gave you a tiny bit of chocolate, all of a sudden it would remind you about the exact taste of chocolate and would increase your craving.”

Costco’s data shows that free samples increased sales by a huge margin too. So if you really want to go into the store and not risk making impulse buys, you might want to skip the samples. Check out the full article at the link below.

The Psychology Behind Costco’s Free Samples [The Atlantic via Consumerist]


  • I was at costco a while back and they had a sample of some kind of vanilla slice, i was going to buy it because it was nice, then i saw it was over $20 a kilo so i put it back.

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!