Amazon Could Start Sending Free Samples From Advertisers

I recently came across an article that discussed a new Amazon program. In short, it allows brands to send free samples to customers based on previous purchase behavior.

On the surface, it seems a little old school to give out free samples. Peddlers and salespeople have been doing that for a very, very long time. It’s not a new idea at all. Visit any farmers’ market and you’ll see vendors doing it. Go to Costco and you’ll get samples. So why would a company the size of Amazon get into this?

Amazon Has The Data

Amazon is the undisputed king of ecommerce. They go into industries and dominate. Even companies like Walmart respect a competitor like Amazon. And that is why this is an interesting combination.

At the farmers’ market or Costco, they’re giving out samples to basically everyone. You could argue that simply by shopping at one of these places you’re telling them a little about yourself. But imagine if the person handing out the samples knew your entire online purchasing history. They could reserve samples for customers who had bought a competing brand or someone who had bought a complimentary product.

For example, if I know that someone has recently bought girls clothing in size 5T, what might they also need in the near future? How about school supplies come July/August?

What if I knew someone recently bought a Traeger grill? A sample of marinade or meat seasoning would be pretty relevant right? How about grilling accessories? Maybe some grass-fed steaks?

And these examples only look at a single product purchase. Now imagine that you have 95 million Prime customers (that’s the numbers for 2018, which was up from 85 million in 2017) who spend an average of $1500/year. You can start piecing together an amazingly powerful profile.

Think of what you might see:

  • Luxury brand purchasers vs. low-cost brand purchasers
  • Purchase of exercise clothing, equipment, books in conjunction with products like an Instant Pot or air fryer
  • Buying pregnancy tests, maternity clothing, etc. (this opens up a huge privacy issue because online purchasing is supposed to be “anonymous” yet pregnancy is a life-changing event that sets off numerous product purchasing cycles)


For advertisers, especially in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) realm, this could be an awesome opportunity. We don’t have pricing information, but it well could be more cost effective to send your sample to a highly qualified potential customer than advertising. So I would anticipate seeing this more and more with expansion if early beta users have positive results.