I used my birthday gift card/money to buy my beloved-if-overpriced hair products at Sephora. I checked to see what items I could get with my bonus points. One was a sample of Clinique’s Smart Custom-Repair Serum.
This alleged wunderkind of the beauty goop world is supposed to detect what your skin needs. That could be eliminating dark spots and wrinkles or improving radiance or changing your car’s oil.
I might be wrong about that last one.
Point being, I was delighted by the idea that I could try a “deluxe sample” — aka a week’s worth if you’re lucky — for free. I added it to my bag.
Thankfully, I looked at the Clinique website before checked out. Turns out the stuff is $59.50 for a 30-day supply. But hey, only $154 for three months’ worth.
What if I tried it and loved it? I couldn’t afford that! Well, more correctly, I couldn’t justify that. Which amounts to the same thing.
I took it out of the cart. My bonus points can grow for awhile longer.
But this got me thinking about the danger of free samples. Freebies are more prevalent than ever. There are sites dedicated to finding them for you.
I’m not just talking about the “free” trials where you’re automatically billed when you inevitably forget to cancel. I mean actual, no-strings-attached freebies.
Companies aren’t giving those suckers out because they’re suddenly feeling magnanimous.
They want us to try their product, fall in love with it and make it a regular purchase. They’re, if you’ll pardon the pun, banking on it.
It’s the same reason that car lots offer gift cards for test drives. Or why timeshares offer you “free” vacations if you attend their presentation. They just need you to listen to their pitch.
That’s all well and good. I mean, not the timeshare thing. But the rest is fine.
Maybe that’s not a problem for some people. But it is for me.
I’m a sucker — the one born every minute. I’m the the target, easily-swayed audience that these companies dream of. If I like something, I’ll almost definitely buy it.
So to keep costs down, I generally have to pass up samples, deluxe or otherwise.
The only exception is if I already had an interest in the item. And food samples at Costco. You have to be a special kind of stoic to pass up free food samples.
I don’t think a lot of people are self-aware about their ability to be persuaded. (Or what I’m sure the companies would call “an openness to new experiences.”)
They fall for the trap. They must, or there wouldn’t be so many freebies still available.
Yep, companies keep giving out free samples because those samples keep generating purchases. Which means people go from having a free product to a new, regular expense in their budgets.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with taking the occasional sample. It’s just important to do it consciously, rather than a knee jerk reaction to the word “free.” We need to be aware of, and okay with, the likelihood that we’ll purchase the item in question.
Have you ever realized that a free thing will cost too much? What’s the best product you ever found through a sample?
Photo credit: David, Bergen, Emmett and Elliott on Flickr