|M.Sc Student||Eyal Ert|
|Subject||Does Trying Lead to Buying? The Effect of Free Sampling|
on Choice Behavior
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Full Professor Erev Ido|
Is free sampling a good idea? Well, it depends. Previous research has demonstrated that free sampling, which is initiated and controlled by retailers, is extremely effective in promoting new products. One of the main reasons for this effect is that sampling provides information to consumers. This information reduces ambiguity and facilitates a demonstration of the superiority of the promoted product over other products. The current research extends this line of work by focusing on environments in which sampling is initiated and controlled by the consumer, like thumbing threw different books in a typical bookstore. In these situations sampling provides only limited information to the consumer, which is often unrepresentative. The results show that in this setting, sampling increases the attractiveness of “relatively safe” products that appear attractive in most cases, but impairs the attractiveness of “long shot” products that appear unattractive in most of the samples. This pattern emerges even when the most likely experience is not a good estimator of the expected utility from the product. Three experiments, presented in this paper, demonstrate this effect on gambles, apartment data sets, and books. The results are summarized with a simple weighted adjustment model. It shows that two factors are sufficient for capturing consumers’ behavior when they sample: The initial attractiveness of the product and consumers tendency to underweight rare events. The current study provides a possible explanation to the observation that it is easier to sell some products in traditional stores, while other products are better sold in the Internet.