January 15, 2019
Amazon is testing a free-sample program that allows brands to ship product samples to prospective buyers. Brands handle the payment while Amazon uses the customer data it acquired to identify which shoppers are likely to buy. In essence, Amazon will seamlessly bring the free-sample experience to customers’ doorsteps.
How It Works
According to Axios, Amazon will use machine learning and its acquired data about consumer behaviors to select and deliver samples of new products. Samples are delivered to shoppers who are most likely to buy the product.
“Amazon helps you discover products you might love by sending you FREE samples from new and established brands,” Amazon says on its product sampling page. “It’s like Amazon’s product recommendations, but real, so you can try, smell, feel, and taste the latest products. There is no obligation to purchase or review the product and you can opt out at any time.”
Axios believes this new form of targeted and customized advertising could give Amazon a leg up on its top competitors, Google and Facebook. Currently, Amazon falls in third place behind Google and Facebook as a leading digital advertising platform. The new sample program may change that.
The Potential Pros and Cons
Amazon has a massive user base, which has allowed it to accumulate a significant amount of consumer data. Brands that want to participate in Amazon’s free-sample offering will benefit from that data, making it easier to reach customers who are more likely to buy, who are more likely to respond positively to a free surprise at their doorsteps. This new advertising approach goes beyond Amazon’s traditional Display Ads, which account for roughly $5 billion of Amazon’s ad revenue.
One concern consumers have already expressed on social media is privacy. They feel their personal shopping behaviors are being exploited to promote more revenue, reports Axios. Additionally, consumers who have already received samples from brands like L’Oreal’s Maybelline and Folgers could not understand why Amazon selected them. This confusion may reflect a flaw in Amazon’s system for identifying potential buyers.
A New Approach to Advertising
Amazon is already popular for its exceptional online shopping and delivery experiences. Although still in the early stages, the free-sample offering could be a major boost for both Amazon and major brands who want to know more about their Amazon audiences. It’s still too early to predict whether the new advertising option will succeed. However, it will most certainly revolutionize the concept of targeted advertising.