If you are a money-conscious individual, chances are you are careful about your spending.
The last thing you want to do is to spend your hard-earned money on products that are poor quality or don’t end up serving your need. On the other hand, if you are a supplier of a product, you want to let as many people know about it as possible. The intersection between these two desires created the space for free samples.
Free samples are a win-win option for both brands and consumers. Brands get to introduce products to new audiences and foster loyalty with existing customers. Consumers get to try a variety of samples before they decide on whether to spend money on the actual product or not. You can even get free samples by mail. Free samples, because of their travel sizes, are also super convenient for fun activities like going on a road trip or camping.
As a self-proclaimed financially-savvy individual myself, I am going to explore this topic from a consumer’s standpoint. I am going to highlight eight different ways you can get free samples. After all, who doesn’t love free?
Costco is famous for its liberal handout of free samples. In front of almost every aisle, there is at least one station showcasing their latest products. The products can range from chips to popcorns, salsa, sausages, ice cream, you name it.
What I especially appreciate about Costco’s free samples is how generous they are with the portions. I can attest to the fact that their free sample strategy certainly works because it has helped my family discover fun and delicious items that we never knew existed.
Of course, as someone sensitive to numbers, I can’t help but notice that their free samples typically feature the more exotic and expensive products in their assortment. While I certainly believe that you should treat yourself every so often, I still recommend that you go into Costco with a shopping list in mind, and pick only one or two items that do not appear on your original shopping list at most as a treat.
If you are a beauty and skincare enthusiast, Sephora is undoubtedly a place you cannot miss. Its vast array of products, ranging from skincare to fragrance, bath and body, makeup, and haircare, can for sure satisfy even the pickiest customer.
Sephora is very generous with free samples, so please take advantage of them for your own sake! Skincare and beauty routines are an integral part of our lives. You want to make sure that you use products that not only look good but also have no adverse effects on your skin.
Often, a quick sample in-store is not enough to see the impact. For example, it may take a few days to see if a particular product causes breakouts. The store is aware of such limitations of in-store sampling, so the customer representatives are always happy to provide a free sample if you ask for it. The samples can usually last for at least a week, so you have sufficient time to test the products on your skin before making a purchase.
Join their Beauty Insider Program for More Free Samples
In addition to asking for free samples when you are deciding on a product, you can also get free samples on your birthday if you join their Beauty Insider program. That is a free loyalty program that gives you access to perks like free shipping, points collection for your purchases, and of course, a free birthday gift.
The birthday samples are of excellent quality. This year, you have three to choose from:
- MILK MAKEUP: Mascara and Lip + Cheek Set
- Sol de Janeiro: Bum Bum Cream and Coco Cabana Cream Set
- Briogeo: Mini Charcoal + Coconut Oil Shampoo and Mini Deep Conditioning Mask
If you are a VIB or Rouge member, you also have a fourth option: Mini Veil Primer and Mini Veil Powder from Hourglass.
I picked the Bum Bum cream set because of its cute name. It came in two small containers, one is the Bum Bum Cream, and the other is the Coco Cabana Cream. I loved the heavenly smell, how easily the body cream glided on my skin, and how smooth my skin felt.
Last but not least, every time you make a purchase online, you are eligible for up to 2 free samples.
Walmart Baby Registry Welcome Box
For those of us with a new baby at home or one in the belly, Walmart’s FREE Baby Registry Welcome Box is for sure a bonus. All you need to do is to create a baby registry, and you will be eligible for a welcome box full of essential baby items.
The value of the welcome box is about $40. The free samples vary depending on Walmart’s suppliers, but you can expect items like a small bottle of lotion, some diapers, pacifiers, and more.
In addition to getting the free samples in the Welcome Box, you now also have a place to organize all the items you need as new parents. You can share your registry with your friends and family, so they can all be a part of such an important milestone in your life.
Be Loyal to a Specific Beauty Brand
Brands love to reward the loyalty of their customers. It makes business sense for them: after all, it is more difficult to find new customers than it is to keep them! Therefore, if you have a beauty brand that you like, you are in a great position to score some savings.
How can you go about doing that? Step one is to subscribe to the brand’s newsletters. The newsletters will typically have the best coupons and promotions that include steep discounts, BOGO, and even free samples!
In addition to being loyal to a brand, you should go one step further and be loyal to a specific makeup/beauty counter in the mall. Their drawers are stuffed full of free samples. If you are a loyal customer and the sales representatives know you well, you are in a great position to score some free samples every time you make a purchase!
Of course, please only adopt this strategy if the brand truly is a good fit for you. Rule #1 of personal finance is to never purchase products just because of the perks.
Influenster is an online platform that sends out thousands of boxes (called VoxBoxes) full of free samples every month to qualified individuals for reviews. In exchange for providing your feedback, you get to keep those samples for free!
To increase your chances of qualifying for a VoxBox, you should do the following:
Increase Your Social Media Presence
As the name “Influenster” implies, the brands do rely on social influencers to help review and promote their products. Therefore, the more of a social influencer you are, the more likely you will get a VoxBox full of free samples. Once you set up a profile with Influenster, make sure that you connect all your social media accounts to maximize your “impact score.”
Answer Questions in the “Snaps” Section on Your Profile
Snaps are quick questions that help determine your eligibility for a VoxBox. Make sure you answer the questions honestly and as soon as they come in. The free samples are usually first-come, first-serve, so you want to be sure that you are at the front of the line!
Answer Surveys in Emails
If you are serious about getting VoxBoxes, you want to subscribe to their emails. Influenster sends out emails with surveys regularly. If you complete the surveys and your profile is deemed a good match, then you may also be eligible for a box of free products.
Complete Your Tasks to Increase Your Chance of Getting Your Next VoxBox
If you qualify for your first VoxBox, congratulations! It’s time to have fun experimenting with your free samples! However, if you want to increase your chance of receiving another box, you need to make sure that you complete the social media tasks requested.
The tasks can include tweeting photos of products to your Twitter followers, writing reviews, and posting them on Facebook, writing a blog post about the products you received, etc. The more tasks you complete, the higher the likelihood that you will receive another VoxBox.
Influenster boasts a reviewer population of 6.5 million. The program is completely free to join, and the products you may qualify for are absolutely free and often full-size. I highly recommend that you try it out!
Smiley360 is another online platform that offers free samples for members in exchange for feedback. They currently have more than 1 million members (called Smiley Members) who are taking advantage of the platform every day.
To qualify for free samples to try, you have to
- Sign up to become a Smiley Member
- Qualify for Smiley360 Missions. It is on these Missions that you receive free samples to try.
To improve your chances to qualify for Smiley360 Missions, you will want to
- Complete surveys
- Keep your profile up-to-date
- Participate in community discussions
- For all the Smiley360 Missions that you are qualified for, make sure you complete all the components of that Mission.
What I love about Smiley360 are its values, which are fourfold:
Free: because you’ll never have to pay a penny as a member
Authentic: because you only share your honest opinion, whether it’s positive or negative
Influence: because your friends listen to your recommendations
Power: because the customer makes the brand, not the other way around.
Do the above values resonate with you? If so, you may want to give Smiley360 a try!
L’Oréal Consumer Testing Program
Do you love brands such as Lancome, Kiehl’s, L’Oréal, Garnier, Maybelline, Essie, and NYX? Do you want to get samples from these brands, provide feedback, and keep these samples for free? If so, L’Oréal Consumer Testing Program may be the right option for you.
Sounds interesting? Head to the signup page for L’Oréal’s Consumer Participation Program! L’Oréal is continuously looking for feedback on a wide array of products, ranging from hair care, styling, and color products, to cosmetics, skincare, and sunscreens.
Upon entering the signup page, you will be redirected to answer a few standard questions about yourself to determine your eligibility. Just like many other programs like Influenster and Smiley360 I mentioned above, you will need to qualify to participate in their product evaluation studies.
L’Oréal Provides Onsite Opportunities
One unique aspect of L’Oréal’s testing program is that they offer evaluation opportunities onsite in New Jersey and Ohio. If you happen to live close by these sites, you get to interact with employees and other panelists in real life while enjoying the free samples and providing feedback.
Of course, if you can’t make it to New Jersey or Ohio, you can still test the products at home if you are selected. The products will be mailed to you for testing, and you will then fill out a questionnaire online.
L’Oréal Group has a family of fantastic brands that I, and I believe, many of you, love. As a consumer myself, I also like to see a company that I respect come up with great new products regularly. So why not spend some time to evaluate their products and provide feedback so they can make the products better? You get to try some of the newest products for free, not to mention that you get to keep these samples!
I Love Free Things
I Love Free Things is also an interesting website for you to get free samples for products daily!
This website operates on a slightly different business model than Influenster and Smiley360. These two websites match you to free samples based on your interest and lifestyle according to your answers in surveys. The nice thing about it is that you don’t know what you are getting, so there is always an element of surprise. However, it can also have downsides, because you don’t see what you are getting!
I Love Free Things Advertises their Free Samples Directly on their Website
They have an easy-to-use directory of free samples for consumers to browse. Consumers can then directly connect with the brands if there are any products they want to try. Additionally, the free samples are no longer limited to beauty and makeup products, but span across many sectors, including yogurt, ice cream, lipsticks, and even photo printing services!
Getting offers is very simple. All you need to do is to go to their website, browse through their directory of free samples, click on the ones you like, and select “Get this offer!” You will then be redirected to the merchant’s website, where you will enter some basic information to get the samples shipped to your house for free!
I highly recommend that you bookmark their website and check back at least once or twice a week for the freshest offers. Alternatively, you can sign up for their newsletter and get new free sample offers into your inbox twice a week. Pretty easy.
How to Avoid Free-Sample Scams
Now that I have introduced you to 8 different ways you can get free samples, I think it’s also important to highlight some key precautionary steps you need to take to avoid scams. To qualify for free samples, you often need to disclose your personal information. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are doing it safely.
Here are some key questions you need to ask when you come across a site that offers free samples:
- Have you heard of the platform before?
- Have you heard of the companies that offer free samples?
- Go to their websites. Do the websites seem legit? Do they have a contact us page with an email address, a physical address, and a contact person’s name?
- Conduct some further research on their sites. Can you find review articles about these sites? Are the reviews from reputable blogs or websites?
- The more reviews there are, and the more legitimate the blogs and websites are, the more you can be at ease with using these sites.
- In addition to asking you basic information, are they also asking you for information like your social security number?
- That type of information is usually not necessary for free samples. Be careful.
I love trying new things, and trying out free samples is undoubtedly one of those small luxuries in life that bring a smile to my face, all while saving me money. I highly recommend that you try out a few of these options. Maybe you will discover a few new items.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks and has been republished with permission.
Tawnya is an elementary special education teacher by day and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned by night.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University. She has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and co-blogger Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. They teach people how to save money, make money, and understand money.