Free Samples & Gifts
Businesses often give away free samples as a luring technique. This is a proven form of marketing as shown by big brands like Gillette and Jell-O, who got started by giving away samples. The company giving away the sample is hoping that the customer will like it enough to buy the product and even buy it repeatedly on a regular basis. There have been studies on persuasion that show that people are more willing to buy when they have received something first. It’s ingrained within the human psyche to reciprocate when a gift has been received. Businesses know this when they are offering the sample.
Free samples and gifts are actually free. They’re given with no obligation. However, the only way they stay free is not to be seduced by them. If businesses consciously give away samples as a scientific technique of persuasion, then you can consciously accept them without feeling obligated to purchase anything. However, this does not mean that you have to be closed minded to everything. In some cases the sample will fulfill it’s true purpose and be matched with the consumer that it was meant for. If that’s you, then at least the practice of sampling saved your budget by helping you to avoid purchasing other products that you didn’t want. When you see a new product on the market that you’re interested in trying, and if it can be delivered in reasonably sized packaging, then consider trying to get a free sample of it before buying. You should not have to risk your money on a product that you may not like.
Where Can I Find Free Samples?
Most grocery stores have free samples on display at one time or another. Costco and Trader Joe’s are two retailers that offer free samples almost on a daily basis. Some retailers and department stores will maintain a calendar of events on their websites indicating when free samples will be given away in the store. Whenever these are found they will be included in the free samples directory. You can also find free samples at your local farmer’s market.
If a manufacturer gives tours at their factory, then they’ll always give away free samples as part of the tour. For example, the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA gives tours almost daily and they give away samples of Jelly Belly beans at every stage of production.
Follow brands, retailers and manufacturers on social media. Sometimes they try to increase social engagement with free samples.
Some retailers or manufacturers offer samples directly through their websites. When these are available you can request the sample by filling out a form. If you’re doing this regularly then it’s a good idea to use a separate and distinct email address to avoid spam in your personal email account.
Get on the direct supply list for free samples. If you want to be notified of samples as they become available from retailers and manufacturers then allow yourself to be put on their contacts list. The web forms for requesting free samples mentioned above should have a check box for you to indicate whether you would like to be contacted about future deals and discounts. If you indicate that you would like to be contacted, then every once in a while they’ll send coupons or more free samples. Most of the time they will send advertisements for items that are not actually free, but avid freebie hunters can endure that patiently to watch for when the freebies do come. If you don’t want to receive this communication, then pay attention to how that check box is worded. If it says, “yes, I would like to be contacted” then make sure it is unchecked, because it will probably be checked already as a default on the form. If it says, “no thank you, please do not send me future deals and discounts,” then make sure it is checked because it will probably not be checked as a default on the form. There may even be a passive aggressive option, such as “no thank you, I do not want to receive any more awesome deals besides this one.”
Third-party sample distributors. If you request samples on a regular basis then you’ll begin to recognize which web pages and offers come from retailers and manufacturers and which ones come through third party sample distributors. The third parties are often marketing companies that are hired to generate leads and/or collect consumer data. Once again, when requesting these free samples, you’ll have to indicate whether you’d like to be added to their contacts list or not. More caution is merited with third party sites since some of them can easily look legitimate when they are actually scams.
There are multiple websites and blogs online that are continually updating free sample feeds. They’re not necessarily third party distributor sites like the ones described above. They’re simply aggregating links and resources, and the better ones know which links to include and which not to include. Many of them are listed in the Free Samples & Gifts Directory and some can be accessed directly on the Actually Free Samples page.
Medical and dental offices are usually loaded with free samples and some offices will dispense these samples to you even if you’re not a patient there. Whether they will give you a sample might be determined by the placement of the samples. If they place the sample in the lobby or even outside their door, then the samples are open to everyone. If the sample is placed on the counter, then they are probably hoping that you’ll speak to the receptionist. And if the samples are only in the back office, then they’re only available to patients.
Directly request samples from the manufacturer. If you ever see a product that you might be interested in then it never hurts to request a sample to try before you buy. These products may include any food product, over the counter drug, dietary supplement, cosmetics, personal hygiene products, cleaners, powders, creams, gels, adhesives, or anything that comes in a plastic wrapper, box, bottle, or can. Write down the name of the product, the company that makes it and the company’s contact information. If any of this information is missing on the label then it can usually be found with a simple Google search. Then try contacting the company’s Consumer Affairs or Consumer Relations department either by phone, mail or email and ask for a sample. Keep your communication simple, professional and polite. They are not obligated to send you anything, yet they will likely be pleased to find out that you’re taking interest in their products. Requesting free samples will require that you reveal your address so that they can send the sample to you. Some companies will send an actual sample to you; others may send coupons to save on postage.
Do you have another method of obtaining free samples? Let us know.
Extreme sampling is the practice of requesting, stocking and using free samples enough to replace actual expenses on your budget. Since you now know that you can request samples from almost any company or manufacturer, then why not do it all the time? You could do it at least as often or more often than you go shopping, and it’s more fun when shopping for freebies because you don’t have to pay anything . . . except perhaps postage for letters of request. Two ways to avoid mailing costs are to email or call the company to make the request. Yet, mailing letters will often succeed where emails and calls leave no results.
Requesting free samples and gifts directly from companies by mail was masterfully demonstrated and documented at The39DollarExperiment.com. It’s an older site, but still live, and the practice is still applicable. The author called it the “$39 Experiment” because he sent requests to 100 companies and stamps cost 39 cents at the time he conducted the experiment (100 x 39 cents = $39). He actually spent a little over $50 for stamps, paper and envelopes. Out of the 100 companies that he contacted, 33 granted him free samples and gifts which he estimated to be worth $273.
The book Absolutely Free discusses the effectiveness of requesting free samples by mail and lists companies that have responded well to free sample requests, although their list may be outdated.
The book Free Stuff Everyday also goes into detail about requesting free samples and even suggests going a step further by offering services for gifts. This is discussed further on the Blogging for Freebies page. For example, bloggers may be able to get free products by offering to review, describe and advertise products on their blogs. A few other services that can be performed for freebies are Mystery Shopping, hosting a House Party, Human Billboard Advertising, and Car Wrap Advertising.
Free Gifts & Promotional Items
Beyond free samples, some companies and organizations offer other types of gifts, such as hats, T-shirts, stickers, magnets, branded binders, pens, mouse pads, note pads, other office supplies, bags, coffee mugs, buttons, booklets, pamphlets, books, DVDs, and other gifts. These are promotional items that draw attention, establish brand awareness, build brand loyalty, and often act as sales collateral.
Go to any promotional print shop and you’ll see the variety of products that can be branded with a business logo. Everything from branded t-shirts to coffee makers could potentially be given away by a business as a promotional item.
Many of these “gifts” are blatant advertisements, such as when Disney offers to send you a free vacation planning DVD. Obviously the DVD wouldn’t be worth much unless you’re planning a vacation to a Disney-owned attraction, where you’ll be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on Disney services and products.
However some promotional gifts may be of value, especially if you are a fan or member of the organization producing them. A common promotional item is a branded reusable bag. These are similar to the reusable bags that are sold at grocery stores. Why pay a dollar to “go green” when you can get a reusable bag as a promotional gift? Small tools, flashlights, clothing and office supplies can all come in handy, as long as you don’t care the about branding or even appreciate it.
Receiving promotional gifts is one of the best ways to get free T-shirts. A T-shirt is a T-shirt; it’s a free article of clothing as long as you don’t care what is on the T-shirt. You may even like it. Quite a few people are fans of Coca-Cola. For them it would be fun to send a letter to Coca-Cola and get a free T-shirt in the mail, or magnet, or any Coke memorabilia. For you it might be the same for a sports team or another brand.
Where can I find free gifts and promotional items?
Some excellent and common resources for finding free gifts and promotional items include Churches, Political Campaigns, Sports Events, Banks, Plasma Donation, Trade Shows, Conferences, Fairs and similar events where they give away “SWAG” or “Stuff We All Get”.
Trade shows are a particularly common place to get free promotional items. You can stop at the table giving away the reusable bags and then fill the bag with stuff given away at all the other tables. Read more about Trade Show Freebies.
Do you have a favorite sports team? There are many sports teams that will send a “Fan Pack” to fans by request. The contents of a fan pack vary by team; some are loaded with hats, T-shirts, calendars, and other fun items while others may just be a letter and a certificate, or a picture of the team. You can contact any sports team to request a fan pack by going to their website, calling or sending them a letter. Your favorite team may not send one, but then again, they might. For a list of successful fan pack requests, see Scott’s Fan Pack Success. (Since Scott’s Fan Pack Success is an older site, we’d be interested in seeing more recent experiments. If you know of one, please let us know. Any team websites that specifically allow you to request a fan pack will be listed in the free samples directory).
And while we’re on the subject of sports teams, have you ever noticed how much stuff they give away at sports events? Whenever there is a timeout or down time during the game they’ll have staff members on the floor and in the stands providing light entertainment for the crowd. Sometimes this entertainment includes giving stuff away. Read more about Sports Events Freebies. And by the way, there are ways to legally get into the event for free so that all the freebies you happen to get there are actually free.
Banks are a great places to get free gifts and promotional items. On one occasion I walked into my bank to make a deposit and found that they were giving away T-shirts. The T-shirts didn’t even have the bank’s name on them; they were branded with the logo of a major league baseball team. The bank was a sponsor of the team and they were giving away the T-shirts to new clients who were opening accounts. I already had an account, but I explained to the teller that my dad and I were going to the game that night, so she went over to the table and got a T-shirt for each of us. It never hurts to ask. The worst they could do is say “no.”
Many more resources for finding free samples and gifts are included in the Free Samples and Gifts Directory.
Do you have another method for obtaining free gifts and promotional items? Let us know.
Example Request Letters
If you follow the advice of the page and request samples, free gifts and promotional items, then you’ll find the following request letter scripts helpful:
Attn: Consumer affairs or consumer relations department
Dear Sir or Madam
I’m writing to request a free sample of (product name). Like other free products this could easily affect my future buying habits if the product is right for me and I’d appreciate the opportunity to try it. If any are available, please send to the following address: (enter your address).
I noticed that there is a new line of (product name) with (a new flavor, style or variation) and I’d like to try before I buy. Do you have any samples available. If yes, please send them to (enter your address)
I’m a huge fan of your brand and I’d like to help you establish it within my circle of influence. If you have any samples or memorabilia of your products, please send them to (enter your address) and I will be sharing them with friends and family accompanied by very positive feedback from myself.
Thank you for your consideration
(sign your name)
If you’re requesting a fan pack then you could put other details, like this one:
Dear Sir or Madam
I’m a huge fan of (name of the sports team). Do you have a fan pack available? I’d like to be able to show support for the team and will be cheering them on this year like I’ve done ever since I was a kid sitting next to my father at the games.
Thank you in advance.
(sign your name)
Simple messages would be easier to cut, paste and send multiple times, but the more personalized messages are more likely to produce results.
- How to get companies to send you free stuff
Do you have info that should be included on this page? Did you find outdated info or broken links? Is something listed that isn’t Actually Free? Please use the Contact Form to report what you know.