Reddit Exposed A Costco Shopper's Hilariously Relatable Cart Full Of Free Samples

Free samples are one of the highlights of shopping at Costco. However, one Reddit thread proved that one person's treasure can be another person's annoyance. In a recent post on the r/Costco subreddit, a presumed Costco shopper shared an employee-snapped photo of one consumer's shopping cart — a cart that was chock full of free samples. "These people are what blocks the aisles," the post read.

Although the desire to stock up on these tasty snacks is quite relatable, commenters largely shared their disdain for the free-sample hoarders. "I have never considered hoarding the samples [for a] later meal," one user wrote, which fellow Redditers acknowledged as behaving, "like a normal person." Other commenters did admit, however, to grabbing a second sample from time to time.

Potential dirty looks and annoyed employees aside, there's no rule against snatching as many free samples as you wish. "The employees handing out free samples can't tell shoppers no, and most of them probably wouldn't bother anyway," DealNews' data analyst Julie Ramhold told Best Life Online. But Ramhold also said that most people aren't taking "the whole tray or $50 worth of product," which is exactly what the aforementioned collector did. 

At the end of the day, it makes you wonder if offering free samples is profitable.

Free samples provide an amazing sales boost

When you have customers who take an entire box of samples, or when employees offer unlimited cups with no cut-off point, it leads one to question: Does this business decision pay off? The simple answer? Absolutely. According to Giovanni DeMeo of Interactions' Club Department Services, the company Costco outsources for its free sample segment, the practice of offering tasters of a popular product is a smart one. "When we compare it to other in-store mediums ... in-store product demonstration has the highest [sales] lift," they said (via The Atlantic), highlighting an instance in which sales of frozen pizza went up 600%. Even though many shoppers hit up Costco strictly for the samples, just getting them in the door makes them more likely to purchase something than if they never entered at all. 

So, why are these samples such a big deal anyway? For the customer the free samples offer something to look forward to while doing your chores. For Costco, they represent a way to turn browsers into buyers. Marketers are very aware of a concept called reciprocity, wherein (most) people who are given something for free will feel inclined to return the favor in some way — in this case, by buying the product. This goes hand in hand with another trait common to most people, which is risk aversion. Most people don't want to waste money on something they might not like. As long as a majority of shoppers respond to these two factors, offering free samples will be profitable for Costco.