In Copenhagen, a new grocer, dubbed Freemarket, offers products for basically the price of a review.
Customers register on the store's website, place an order, and then pick up the "free" products at the store, according to a BBC report. The shop has a limit of 10 products per month. Members also receive gift certificates and special discounts at stores across the country.
The caveat is that shoppers must review the product within a short period or see their membership cancelled. A fine is charged in order to have the membership reopened. Freemarket also charges 19 kroner ($3.40) a month to "cover the cost of the physical operation," according to the Copenhagen Post.
While helping brands test products, the "free" samplings also support word-of-mouth efforts, amplified by social media, that can "help break a product and get it into traditional stores," according to article.
The BBC report said the store is an example of "Tryvertising". In Japan and Hong Kong, "sample labs" packed with cosmetics, food and household goods have been expanding since the middle of the last decade. Similar sample stores have opened in Europe in recent years.
In the U.S., free sampling can be found in magazines, at grocers and on street corners, with some tied to survey requests. The internet also has a number of sample-for-reviews websites, often driven by brands. But beyond a periodic pop-up location from a brand such as Procter & Gamble, stores dedicated to free sampling haven't arrived.
What's the likelihood that sampling stores will be fairly common in the U.S. over the next three to five years?