Know who to give: Enhancing the effectiveness of online product sampling

Xianghua Lu, Chee Wei Phang, Sulin Ba, Xinlin Yao

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Product sampling is an established marketing strategy to increase product exposure and sales, and its use has recently been extended online. Online product sampling affords the advantages of reaching mass audiences, as well as opportunities for firms to select promising sample recipients. In this study, we leverage on the data from an online platform's early effort in administering online product sampling campaigns, whereby sample recipients were randomly selected from among the consumers who indicated interest in the product sample. This affords a relatively “clean” environment for us to investigate the behaviors of consumers in terms of their subsequent purchase-making after being given a product sample, with minimal biases arising from purposive selection issues. We find that, overall, receiving a product sample could increase the consumers' purchase probability by around 300%. Furthermore, the effects vary among different type of consumers. Specifically, average consumers who have few or moderate experience on the platform demonstrated highest purchase probability compared to mature shoppers and also “opportunists”, after they received a product sample. This study contributes to the literature by unveiling consumer heterogeneity in response to online product sampling when receiving a sample, and provides guidance to firms' decision-making in targeting potential consumers so as to better economize on these campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalDecision Support Systems
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Brand sales
  • Consumer heterogeneity
  • E-commerce
  • Latent class modeling
  • Product sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management


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