Amazon is giving away free samples; take it or leave it?

There are two things almost guaranteed to make someone living in 2019 happy: free samples and Amazon. Typically, those two concepts don’t go together but a new marketing initiative has changed everything. Amazon’s latest game-changing adverting strategy is to surprise its shoppers with free stuff.

Amazon has made “sample-size” items available for purchase for years. But this is a whole new program that involves the direct participation of 20 major brands. Now, the corporation is sending its customers packages filled with free samples the company thinks they might enjoy based on their past buying behavior.

It’s kind of like those ads that follow you around on all of your social media channels. But here, products show up at your doorstep instead of on your Instagram feed…and that’s a win in our book.

How the Free Stuff Program Works

It’s already well-known that Amazon maintains a ton of user data on its site. The online retail giant will send reminders to your inbox about that shower curtain you looked at for two minutes but decided against buying for weeks. Indeed, Amazon’s automatic data capturing is so precise, it understands its customers buying habits better than any other e-commerce platform.

Amazon’s new initiative involves using those robust consumer insights to help its 20 best-selling companies sell more stuff. Basically, the e-giant is sending regular shoppers sample boxes with other products from their favorite companies. So, the new program’s key benefits are giving sellers access to a new targeted marketing channel and generating excitement about Amazon as a retail platform. Also, customers benefit by getting boxes of free stuff they’ll probably like.

Because of the way the advertising program is set up, Amazon users are taken by surprise when they receive free products from BSN, Maybelline, and Oxi-Clean. But who doesn’t love to come home to an Amazon package on their front porch?

Has Amazon Crossed a Line?

While Amazon’s data-driven approach to retail sampling is impressive, it could cause ad wary customers to become even more paranoid.

To send users these packages, Amazon data analysts must deep dive into user order data. That practice could make privacy-conscious consumers uneasy and potentially cause the tech behemoth to lose customers. However, Amazon’s free sample packages include detailed instructions on how to opt out of the advertising program. That way, gift-hating customers can permanently stop receiving free stuff from the companies they love.

In the long run, Amazon’s new marketing tactic might be something other brands catch onto. Even though the method is a bit invasive, sending free samples directly to consumer homes is an intriguing idea. After all, one study found that sampling can improve conversion rates by as much as 30 percent.

Here’s hoping Best Buy copies this marketing strategy and starts mailing out sample 80-inch TVs.

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