The rise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands hasn’t stopped consumers from wanting to glimpse, taste or feel the products they are buying. A recent survey from consumer intelligence platform Toluna found that one-in-four shoppers would be more likely to consider DTC brands that include free trial periods or provide some kind of freebie.
Free Trials Can Highlight Belief In A Product But It’s Important To Manage Expectations
By offering free trials or products, brands show consumers their products are worthwhile and trustworthy. The flipside is the risk that comes when product deployments aren’t seamless or samples don’t fulfill all that is promised. A free trial should meet expectations, otherwise conversions could be less likely, and customers may lose trust in products and brands. There’s no way every product is going to resonate with every customer, but the reasons shouldn’t be a failure to manage expectations by brands.
Freebies Are Good For Recommendations Among Friends & Family
The Toluna study found that shoppers who enjoy free trials are more likely to recommend brands or products to friends and family. This is particularly key with the DTC market, since one-in-five consumers said they would only try new DTC brands after hearing positive reviews from trusted friends or family members.
Certain Products Are More Successful As Freebies
Items with “repeat-purchase potential” are more successful as freebies, particularly if they also have re-order potential. From eMarketer, “Fortunately, the most highly penetrated D2C category in the Toluna study was personal care and beauty (52.1%), while food and beverage was No. 3 (39.8%). Both categories are ideal for free trials and product samples.”
Freebies can include trial subscription periods, fun treats thrown in with orders or promotions that include free items. For example, DTC brand Harry’s Razors enlisted consumers to engage with friends and family on social media, and, in return, those consumers received free razors, handles and shave gel. Harry’s was able to get free content and made changes to their handle based on user feedback.
Free Trials Can Help Brands Build Lasting Relationships With Consumers
By connecting with consumers via free trials or samples, brands develop relationships with shoppers. A reconnect is necessary once the trial period has ended or the sample has been used, and the feedback can be invaluable to the brand even if the freebie didn’t lead to a conversion at that moment. If the relationship is properly nurtured, it could convert in the future, particularly if a newer iteration meets the needs of consumers.
"Free trials only work when the customer acquisition cost is easily offset by strong customer lifetime value," said Andrew Lipsman, Principal Analyst at eMarketer. "That’s why the customer relationship aspect is also so critical for consumer goods marketers that want to try this approach. Not only does it give them the ability to recontact trial customers, but the feedback generated can help quickly iterate a consumer product to better meet the needs of customers — which is ultimately where a new brand’s staying power will come from."