Tapas dishes on the table with veggies around them in nice white dishes

Whether you’re a restaurant owner or a specialty food store owner, you have opportunities to give away samples, or even if you are just trying out one of the latest food trends for 2017 and want to see if your guests like it. You might stop people in the street outside your shop, or at the counter. Who doesn’t love a free sample?

a tasting of small finger cakes on a plate, one vanilla and one chocolate

The question is: does giving away free samples increase sales?

There are two key reasons why you should give away free samples to your guests. The first one is that by offering a quality product as a free sample, it makes the rest of your inventory look good. If your product is of low quality, it’s unlikely that consumers will be interested in spending money on your products in the future.

Second, if you’re entering the marketplace with a unique product – one that may be difficult to describe – giving free samples will help your potential audience get a taste of the product and spread word of mouth. This is a great way to test out new menu items before they become staples.

Thinking about new restaurant menu ideas? Click here.

Who is benefiting from giving free samples?

Of all the markets in this country, the food industry is the most likely to offer free samples, whether it’s a tray of teriyaki chicken at the counter of a mall food court, or a cheese shop offering unlimited tastes, like Milk and Honey Bazaar.

At least a quarter of those who tried a free sample ended up buying the product.

Naturally, snack food companies have found great success with their free sample offerings. Pretzel Crisps maker the Snack Factory started out by offering free samples of its flat pretzel cracker to reach both pretzel and chip lovers. According to Perry Abbenante, Snack Factory vice president of marketing, the conversion rate of the sampling efforts was between 25 and 30 percent, meaning that at least a quarter of those who tried a free sample ended up buying the product.

Tastings are popular among wineries for a reason.

In the beer and wine industry, breweries and wineries build a business model around inviting customers for tastings, offering free or low-cost samples of their product before they commit to a full bottle.

She/He is 93% more likely to spend an additional $10 buying an extra bottle of wine, and 92% more likely to repurchase the wine in the future.”

But does this strategy entice tasters to buy? According to a study conducted by Cornell University assistant professor Miguel Gomez, tastings can turn a “satisfied customer” into a “highly satisfied customer.” The difference here, according to the study is “she (or he) is likely to spend an additional $10 buying an extra bottle of wine (with a probability of 93 percent), and to re-purchase wine in the future (92 percent probability).”

This study took a look at 12 wineries in the Finger Lakes region of New York. All wineries may not experience the same results, but the study concluded that tastings create brand loyalty and entice guests to return for more.

sparkling wine glasses on platter with a blurry backgrounf

A few key components of improving customer satisfaction during tastings from the study:

  • Provide great service
  • Create a pleasant atmosphere
  • Make the tasting memorable
  • Allow for properly executed retailing
  • Have a protocol for tastings that are established and shared with guests prior to the tasting itself.
restaurant week menu ideas

You need restaurant menu ideas that can capture attention and exceed expectations.

Download The Guide
Written by   |  
You're just as likely to find Meghan ordering a rye Old Fashioned at a new bar as you are to find her sipping chamomile tea while she gets too much take-out delivered. She believes in trying new foods, indulging in tasting menus, and always ordering dessert.