Reader question: Is it okay to ask high-end brands for samples?

Hi Liz! Is it normal or okay to just ask for sample products from high end brands? Because before, when I did my shopping at Rustans and bought some Murad skincare products, and while I was paying, the sales clerk asked me if I wanted to try other Murad products since she noticed my skin wasn't looking well. So I said I would like to try some acne treatment products and she gave me samples, and a lot of it!

And again it happened when I bought a smashbox foundation and bronzer at Beauty Bar, the sales clerk gave me a sample of the photofinish primer.

Is it okay if sometimes I would just ask the SA for the sample without buying anything? Especially when I want an expensive foundation, like MAC, MUFE etc. I want to test the foundation first before buying the full size.  

Sample products are also really handy with me when I'm traveling. And of course when i want to try foundation or skincare, I want to try them first before I pay a huge amount for it. - Maggie

Hey Maggie! Thanks for the question! ^_^ I've actually answered this in my Where to get product samples in Manila post but I just want to elaborate on it a bit more. As a marketing consultant who works with beauty brands, I'm aware that it's when the customer is at the counter that the probability of making a sale is higher. Reading reviews online, seeing ads/features in magazines, these are just introductions to the products. Ultimately, what the brands want you to do is to be there at the counter and to try what they have. If you've already invested your time and/or money to go there then it should be a bit easier to convince you to spend, or at the very least, come back!

That is the point of giving away samples. Samples are easier to come by in the US because the company headquarters are there and they have huge warehouses to store their stocks. Here in the Philippines, samples have to be shipped, get taxed, and of course it costs to store them here properly (warehouses often have to be air-conditioned). That's why samples aren't technically free here unless they are gifts with purchase - you only get them when you buy something, because they've already made a profit and can therefore afford to give a tiny bit of it back to you. As a sign of goodwill. As a potential future sale.

I do encourage everyone to be a smart customer and ask sales assistants about GWPs whenever you buy from high-end brands. If they have any on stock, it shouldn't be a problem for them to give at least one to you. It depends on their policy as some require a minimum purchase but it still doesn't hurt to ask. It's normal and totally okay to do so!

Make sure that you have a good relationship with the SA so that she'll help you out. Be nice, smile a lot, and look her in the eye as you're checking out the counter. They know when you're just wasting their time. If they're wrong about you, well, make sure you ask smart questions and engage them in conversation instead of looking at things sullenly and feeling judged.

I think it's still okay to ask for samples even if you don't intend to buy anything that day. I mean, if they have extras or if their store policy allows them, they should give to you. It's in their best interest to hook up a possible customer! But what if they don't have any? That's what testers are for!

Bring a jar and ask for a couple of pumps of that foundation you want to try. Ask for a cotton bud to pick up some moisturizer to transfer in your sample jar. If you're honest about trying the product for a future purchase then this shouldn't be embarrassing. I mean, don't ask samples of everything, but just get two or three products you super want to try.

Don't abuse the testers and you'll be fine. Ask the SA politely, or if you're feeling awkward, ask her to be the one to dispense the product in your jar. Be nice and be sincere, and you're on the way to getting samples from high-end brands at no cost. :)

What do you think? Do you have any GWP or sampling experiences to share?