Federal Manager's Daily Report

The Postal Service has been a main vehicle for marketers to reach potential customers in a well-received way—by providing them free introductory samples—but the agency should take the further step of joining with those marketers’ efforts to better target recipients, the postal IG has suggested.

A blog post noted the popularity of try-before-you-buy samples of items such as laundry detergent, shampoo and other personal items, citing a survey by USPS finding that 92 percent of consumers have bought a product after receiving such a sample.

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It said the USPS “understands the power of free samples and has earned revenue from delivering advertisers’ trial-size items to homes and businesses” – and delivers those items to consumers where they most likely will use them.

However, that advantage is eroding because “marketers are emphasizing targeted customer segments, social networks, mobile devices, collaborative efforts, and increasingly innovative designs,” it said. Also, as postage costs increase, it becomes increasingly attractive for them to distribute their samples in other ways, including in retail stores.

USPS could better collaborate with marketers for example by setting up an online platform where consumers can elect to have certain samples delivered to them for free, it said. Consumers would be making the requests directly, there would be less waste in sending items to those who don’t want them, and those who do receive them would be more likely to purchase the product, it said.