- Costco famously offers shoppers free samples of products in its stores.
- Some shoppers brag on social media that it’s their main reason for visiting the store.
- While it might seem generous, those samples can actually lead to sales for the company.
While some customers might think that Costco is just doing them a favor by offering them free snacks, there’s actually a solid business strategy behind it.
By offering free samples, Costco makes the shopping experience in its stores more appealing and its customers more loyal.
While some customers may claim to visit the store only for its samples, once they’re in the store, they’re more likely to buy things.
It’s also a way for Costco to encourage customers to try new products that they otherwise wouldn’t have, and to spark cravings — once you have a nibble of chocolate, for example, you’re likely to want more.
Plus, as its so-called “demonstrations” are staffed, customers tend to feel more of a pressure to buy the product.
Costco is mum on how much this marketing ploy actually boosts sales. The company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
However, in other stores, free samples have been known to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.
Costco outsources the sampling process to other companies, including Club Demonstration Services, which provides staff and oversees the process. A former executive of the company told The Atlantic in 2014 that the company’s samples of frozen pizza helped boost sales of that pizza product by 600% at national chains.
“When we compare it to other in-store mediums … in-store product demonstration has the highest [sales] lift,” former executive Giovanni DeMeo told The Atlantic.