Amazon’s latest advertising push should surprise and delight consumers, if it doesn’t terrify them first. Axios reported on Tuesday that the online retailer quietly kicked off a pilot program recently that lets brands pay to send free samples to Amazon users. The users who receive the samples are picked based on what Amazon thinks they’d be likely to buy using what they’ve purchased in the past as a guide. A generous invasion of privacy!
A page on Amazon’s website describing the program went up in December, though Amazon didn’t publicize its arrival. Axios also cited multiple tweets from Amazon users who received samples as early as August of 2018, indicating that Amazon has been testing the program in some capacity for quite a while.
“Amazon helps you discover products you might love by sending you FREE samples from new and established brands,” reads the description of the pilot program on Amazon.com. “It’s like Amazon’s product recommendations, but real, so you can try, smell, feel, and taste the latest products. There is no obligation to purchase or review the product and you can opt out at any time.”
It’s unclear when or if this program will expand, but as The Verge points out, Amazon posted a job listing last year for a senior-level employee to join the “Targeted Sampling” team. The position appears to be directly related to the free samples, suggesting that this is a form of advertising the company will continue to pursue.
Some of the products Amazon lists as being eligible for free samples include dog food, groceries, beauty products and health supplements. In other words: Items you would buy repeatedly. It’s easy to see why brands would pay to be a part of this program, especially if they are able to convince shoppers to go with their dog food or coffee over a brand they have been loyal to when shopping on Amazon in the past.