(The main course is served tomorrow…)
I guess it is fair to say that we all love freebies. Getting cosmetics samples is a great way to test-drive potential candidates and discover new favorites.
Like return policies (and thank you for all your comments and contributions), I have also observed that the level of generosity when it comes to samples seems to differ from country to country.
In my own experience, sales assistants in Japan seem to be particularly generous.
I had an unforgettable experience when I was in Tokyo. I bought two small travel-size (30ml) Shiseido toners in a drugstore. I didn’t expect to get any sample and I felt embarrassed to ask, since the toners were inexpensive and since the staff so kindly offered to keep and watch over my heavy belongings behind the counter while I was browsing.
But when I showed interest in another Shiseido skincare line (after I paid for my toners), one assistant not only gave me samples of virtually the whole line of about 15 products but also taped all of them, one by one, next to where they appeared on the product brochure (so I wouldn’t mess up the routine due to my lack of competence in Japanese).
Well, in a way, she didn’t achieve her purpose (of having me try more of their products) at all, because the brochure and samples have been kept untouched as a souvenir. (I wish I had a photo to show you! It is quite a sight.) But this level of patience and service has impressed me tremendously.
What about the US? I have never lived in the US but I have an impression that the sales assistants are also generous, even for non-purchasing customers, as long as they show enough interest. (This is where I’d love your stories and thoughts. Let me know!)
In the UK, it can be difficult to get samples without any purchase. Generally, even when I do buy things, it depends on whether the assistant knows me from previous purchases or it depends on how much I buy.
But I did once experience moments of brilliance in a Boots store in London. After using my Boots advantage card loyalty points on a Chanel blusher (so technically I didn’t pay for it), I was looking at some Chanel skincare products. It just so happened that whatever product I was pointing at and said I was interested in trying, the assistant managed to find a sample for me.
My friend who was with me then said it looked as if the assistant had been hypnotized by me… (Ummm…is this a skill that I actually have?)
But, most of the time, I need to try way harder than this…
I am interested to know about the sample-giving “culture” where you are. Do drop a comment, and please let me know which country (or city) you are in!
Tomorrow (the main course): I talk about how I usually ask for samples at the counters.I don’t want to keep my experience to myself anymore, so do stay tuned!
Other mini discussion going on:
Can I Return This, Please?