Merle Norman Cosmetics Creates Loyal Customers With ‘Try Before You Buy’

Science says customers respond favorably to samples and free gifts

Long before department-store cosmetics counters were handing out zippered pouches full of trial-size products, Merle Norman Cosmetics was converting devoted fans to our brand with “Try Before You Buy.” Merle Norman herself believed that if she could just get her products on customers’ faces, they would love them and become loyal customers.

She was right. “Try Before You Buy” became a slogan we’re famous for and that’s often imitated. Our studios will gladly give you a personalized free makeover tailored to your needs – no purchase minimum either.  Our owners gladly hand out samples of any product a customer wants to try, plus each season we offer several samples of our most popular or new products as a Gift with Purchase promotion.

“As with most every aspect of her company, Merle Norman was far ahead of her time with the concept of ‘Try Before You Buy,’ ” said Travis Richards, Vice President of Franchising. “She started the practice — that’s commonplace today — of handing out trial sizes of products. She knew that once women tried her products, they’d be hooked. Operating Merle Norman Cosmetics from this philosophical standpoint has been critical to our success for almost nine decades.”

Marketing science confirms the efficacy of ‘Try Before You Buy’

Modern-day science about customers’ buying habits bears out what Merle Norman realized as she started her company in the 1920s: sending samples of products home with customers is good business.

The Huffington Post article “What Science Says About Discounts, Promotions and Free Offers” states that “Sample- or trial-size products cost little-to-nothing to produce, yet they are a major revenue driver for retailers online and offline. Brands offer a risk-free proposition to consumers who can try something new, which they may even like, for free. The stores that do manage to impress shoppers with their samples earn consumer loyalty and trust and generate profitable sales due to our natural desire to reciprocate goodwill.” In some cases, samples have boosted sales by as much as 2,000 percent, according to another article in The Atlantic.

By giving away free items to customers and potential customers, brands elevate their perception in customers’ eyes. It’s a great way to begin and nurture a relationship, and a brand’s “generosity” adds to its likability, trustworthiness and overall value.

The Huffington Post article goes on to say, “According to academic and behavioral scientist Dan Ariely, zero is a special price. To many, it is worth a lot more than its face value. Almost irrationally, consumers ‘perceive the benefits associated with free products as higher’ than their absolute value. In a paper for Marketing Science journal, Ariely found that, ‘People appear to act as if zero pricing of a good not only decreases its cost, but also adds to its benefits.’ Therefore, retailers who price items at a cost of zero or give things away for free offer special appeal to everyday customers. We value it more, which is why so many brands take advantage of the ‘free gift with purchase’ tactic to increase average order totals among shoppers.”

For Arkansas franchisee Robyn Steinmetz, “Try Before You Buy” is key in growing her Merle Norman Cosmetics business. “Giving out samples is important to us,” she said. “We have gift time four times a year, and that’s a huge draw. It lets the customers try new products when they get little sample bottles in the box or the bag. In fact, we usually try to give everyone a little something when they come in just to thank them for stopping by. I’ll often give out lipstick samples and say, ‘This is a great new color. Try this.’ She’ll remember me when she tries it and will want to come back because it will look good on her.”

Learn more about franchising with Merle Norman Cosmetics

We are actively recruiting new franchisees to join Merle Norman, as we just celebrated a record-breaking 56 percent growth in 2018, with 47 new studio owners added.

Extended by Merle Norman herself since 1931 to entrepreneurs, our franchise opportunity gives franchisees personal and professional fulfillment as Merle Norman Cosmetics studio owners.

There’s never been a better time to become a Merle Norman cosmetics franchisee.

Please join us! To find out more information about becoming a studio owner, explore our research pages or request a copy of our free Franchise Information Report.

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