While the something-for-nothing business model has gone the way of Dionysian launch parties, two Web-based free sampling companies are trying to evolve into full-scale market research firms.
Both FreeSamples.com and StartSampling started their businesses by offering free product samples from their respective websites. But now, both realize that the real value of these offers is the information collected from the people who respond.
In fact, San Francisco-based FreeSamples.com admits it will likely change its name later this year to reflect the work it’s doing in partnership with United Business Media, a media research conglomerate. “The free sampling offer has become an actual hook to incentivize consumers to provide valuable insight,” says former FreeSamples CEO Jeff Malkin, who claims that two surveys sent to more than 200,000 of its sampling customers generated a 40 percent response rate.
That kind of customer data allows FreeSamples to target special offers to very specific consumers. “We’re using the offer to influence the behavior of consumers and result in increased sales,” Malkin says.