The Psychology of $1 Samples and Why They Work

Rishi Rawat Blog Posts Leave a Comment

I’m sure you’ve seen this: you go to a site that sells fabric, or snacks, or flooring and right next to their full-priced item there is an “order a sample” button. This takes you to a page where for just a dollar you can get a sample.

Why do retailers do this? Doesn’t the sample sale hurt sales of their full-priced items?

One obvious reason they do this is because they are trying to drive a micro-conversion. They realize no one is going to buy a large order of fabric without “touching and feeling it”.

But there is another reason why this tactic works so well.

We call it “end search”.

You, the retailer, is most vulnerable while the shopper “session” is active because during this time the shopper is actively looking at multiple competitors in multiple tabs. That’s a dangerous place to be.

But, when the shopper orders a sample for a $1 they’re likely to “pause” their search session because they’re now waiting to see your $1 sample. Ending search takes them from “which of these 9 stores should I trust?” to “Does the sample from site x meet my needs?” It’s way easier to nail question 2.

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