If you are like me, you like getting things for free. Who doesn’t? I love opening my mailbox and getting a few boxes filled with free product samples I requested. I then take the boxes home, unpack them and carefully examine all of the goodies.
I am one of millions of product samplers who enjoy goodies from home. And if you are also interested in getting a slice of a multi-billion dollar sampling campaign, I have put together this guide to help you get started.
My goal is to answer some of the most common questions, explain how to avoid the scams and hopefully give you all the info you need to join the growing army of product samplers! ☺
First, The Good News! Product Sampling is Getting Digital
The idea of free product samples is as old as shopping.
You try something, you like it, you buy it. In the last few centuries the marketplace evolved from farmers markets to shopping malls and now directly to your mailbox.
What do I have to do to receive/continue receiving samples?
Receiving free samples is a matter of applying for them and answering a few questions.
For more expensive product samples (think $20+ retail price), it can be much like qualifying for focus groups, at least in the initial step.
You can apply to an individual sample, or sign up for a firm that sends out samples regularly. Usually, a short pre-qualification survey is required to ensure you are the target demographic.
Don’t worry – if there is a survey component, it’s typically paid, so it isn’t dead time. If it isn’t paid, just consider if it is worth your time.
Similarly, vetting and finding quality companies can be a challenge. We have a sample page where you can go through a feed of current sampling opportunities at any time. Otherwise, there are some companies that we recommend.
Keep reading to find out!
COVID is accelerating the digital trend
I have more good news. The sampling landscape is changing fast. Chances are, you have severely limited your typical grocery store rounds.. But if you still prefer to shop in person, do you see as many product samples going on in your grocery store or Costco? Probably not.
People are more hesitant to try a free snack from a silver tray in a grocery store. Businesses are perhaps even more reluctant to dish them out. Covid is encouraging many manufacturers to make their sampling digital. And I tell you, it works!
The move to digital is great for consumers. Now, we can just pick and choose what we want. With a small time investment, we can try stuff we wouldn’t otherwise try.
Below is a picture taken in Downtown Toronto in the midst of the pandemic.
Makers of a candy bar decided to start a sampling campaign in the middle of the COVID pandemic. This is just CRAZY.
Product sampler is giving out small pieces of Candy, wearing a mask, gloves and tongs.
As you can imagine, not a lot of passer-bys took her up on the offer.
I am sure next time this manufacturer will use Stan’s Gigs to do a sampling campaign 🙂 Or one of the other sites.
Free Product Samples and your personal information.
This might come as a surprise, but the free product samples are not REALLY free. No, no don’t get me wrong. You never have to pay a cent. But you DO provide the manufacturers with something valuable in return – your personal information.
Your email address and general information has value to product marketers. So even if you are not paying for the product, you are giving them your info and the right to market to you in the future.
It’s really not as scary as it sounds. But as you know, nothing in life is truly free. ne of the many reasons product manufacturers send out all that free stuff is with the hopes that you will buy in the future. And they have the right to send you email and coupons once you ‘opt-in’ (give them your information).
I get some coupons in the mail every now and then, but most of the companies try to market to me online. And if I didn’t really like the product, I can always unsubscribe from that mailing list. No biggie.
Will your information be passed to third parties? After all nobody wants to start receiving unsolicited emails. Legitimate sampling companies would never do something like that. So if you stick to legit sampling companies we recommend, you will avoid the scammers.
How much free stuff can I really get through product sampling?
Instead of answering “it depends” (man, that answer can be annoying!), I will show you my results of a sampling week. This stuff came in 5 separate shipments. It’s always a pleasant surprise to open the mailbox. So much fun! ☺
I am selective about what I apply for. For instance, I wouldn’t apply for the samples of dog food because I don’t have a pup. You get the idea.
So yeah, this is stuff from a 7-10 day cycle of sampling. Some weeks I spend more time requesting and applying for samples, some weeks I get busy with life.
Keep in mind that I live in Canada, so the sampling offers are less frequent than US, but it should give you an idea. If you live in the US, you can typically expect even more samples! How long did it take me to apply to these samples? Probably 10-15 minutes.
Are free product samples legit?
The short answer is: Sometimes. The long answer is… well… long. You see, many corporations do give out product samples BUT they have a limited number they want to distribute. And they want to be selective about the consumers that receive them.
Who can blame them?
After all, if you are marketing diapers, you want to make sure that a baby is at least somewhere near the household. So, yes, even with legit sample opportunities, not everyone will qualify.
But qualifying for free samples is only a part of the problem. Many companies falsely advertise the free samples as a way to lure consumers in only to later either ask them to pay for the product or direct them towards non related services. Many survey companies are notorious for advertising free samples and product tests to get you to fill out endless surveys.
The worst of the lot are the free sampling scammers. The typical scam goes like this:
A very appealing brand is advertised as having a free sample. Something like the latest iPhone or super cool and expensive cosmetics. And In order to claim yours, you must complete 3 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze offers or pay a ridiculous subscription fee.
If you ever see fine print on advertising free samples that reads “in order to qualify you must complete 3 offers”, don’t bother. And if anyone ever asks for your credit card to receive samples, don’t bother. Just run away as far as you can.
How to avoid being scammed
The adage: ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ rings true here. Like we stated above, even if you don’t pay money for your products, there is still an exchange: whether it be your information, time, a review, etc.
Keeping this in mind will help you avoid most scams.
Here are some other tips:
- Free samples do not require you to sign up for free trials or subscriptions.
- Be weary of third-party companies that do not disclose the product or company of the free samples.
- Do not enter your credit card or other private information. Legit companies won’t request them for free samples.
- If it requires too much effort or time, move on. It may not be a scam in the traditional sense, but the ROI makes it worthless.>
What companies give out Free Product samples?
Product manufacturers send the majority of the product samples. Sometimes they send directly to the consumers themselves, but oftentimes they hire an agency or samples aggregator to save on shipping costs. The list of product manufacturers is huge and the best way to keep up to date on free product samples is to visit our samples list.
The second category of companies that send product samples are market research companies. Those are usually also employed by product manufacturers, but their primary goal is to get consumer insights and measure customer feedback. For the list of market research companies that occasionally sample click here.
Why would companies want to send me product samples?
For two reasons:
- To have you try a new product and hopefully buy it in the future
- To gather feedback on a newly launched product.
Do they always send product samples by mail?
Usually. But sometimes if the products are perishable or too large to ship economically, manufacturers will send a coupon in the mail.
You can redeem the coupon for free products next time you go to a grocery store or order your groceries online.
Make sure you read the fine print on the coupon for expiration dates and limitations.
What is the best way to start receiving free stuff
There are a few ways to approach receiving free samples. Some are easier than others. Here’s what we recommend:
- Signup for our newsletter to keep you updated…
- Visit our sampling section for a steady stream of current samples.
- Register to the following companies:
This company partners with various brands to compile a box of samples and full-sized products for you to try in exchange for a review on their site. You can receive products from soap to snacks… in the same box!
Upon filling out a questionnaire to determine your likes and interests, you will get a small personalized box of things that hopefully fit your profile. Once you receive products, report what you did and didn’t like to improve what you will receive next time.
If lifestyle products are your jam, this company is probably a fit. They are very community and feedback oriented: publishing reviews and results on their site, which is a fun addition.
Do I need to pay for the shipping of a product sample?
No. If someone is asking you to pay for the shipping of a product sample, read the fine print carefully, as this is unlikely to be a typical product sampling campaign. You might be opting into their subscription service.
Can I really get free samples of iPhones, Xbox Console, MacBook and Apple Watch to try and keep?
No! If you see someone advertise an expensive item for free, hit that back button on your browser. It’s most likely a scam. Just read the fine print and you will learn that “conditions apply”. And the list of conditions is endless.
There is no incentive for a manufacturer to give out free expensive units of their merchandise, unless it is a contest and you have a small chance of winning. If that is the case it’s not a product sample, it is a lottery. The only difference is instead of spending $2 on a lottery ticket, you give out your info, which can actually be far more costly, especially with shady companies.
Last Thoughts on Samples
I hope I have answered most of your questions. If not, please ask them in the comments section.
Or perhaps you want to brag about your recent sampling results? We would love to see your goodies. Just drop a picture below.