The Power of Free Samples

If you’re wondering how effective free samples are in influencing consumer behavior, a new study by the Oregon Department of Human Services provides a powerful answer. According to an article on,

Public health researchers analyzed survey responses from 2,684 new mothers. Almost 67 percent said they were breastfeeding at the time they left the hospital and were still given a free discharge pack containing infant formula. Further exploration of the data showed the women who received the free formula breastfed for a shorter time period than women who went home without a formula gift pack.

There is some debate as to whether this is good or bad from a public health standpoint (and one might spend some time considering the morality of the practice), but it’s certainly an indication that free samples have a strong effect on subsequent buying behavior. It’s hard to imagine a more personal decision than whether to breastfeed a baby, but the evidence indicates that sampling influences that decision more than a little.



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