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Amazon sends consumers free samples in new ad strategy

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Amazon sends consumers free samples in new ad strategy

Amazon.com Inc. is sending free product samples to certain customers to help them "discover" items from new and established brands after the e-commerce company discontinued a somewhat similar program for its Prime members.

According to the Seattle retailer, customers with an active Amazon.com account, including non-Prime members, are eligible to receive free samples of products including pet food, grocery items and health and wellness products.

Samples sent to Amazon customers so far include mascara from L'Oréal SA's makeup brand Maybelline and coffee from The J.M. Smucker Co.'s beverage brand Folgers, Axios reported Jan. 8.

Amazon added that customers are not obligated to purchase the products sampled and may choose not to participate in the program.

The initiative follows Amazon's now-defunct Prime Samples, an exclusive program that lets members buy product samples and receive credits equal to the price paid for samples to be used for a later purchase of full-size items. Individual samples are priced at $2 or $4, while samples boxes cost between $4.99 and $19.99, Business Insider previously reported.

Amazon could be more effective in promoting brands by tapping into customers' purchasing information and using its logistics infrastructure to deliver free product samples, Axios said. This could be a step up from Facebook Inc.'s and Google's advertising models, it added.

In the first nine months of 2018, Amazon recorded $6.72 billion in net sales from advertising services and sales related to other service offerings.

The U.S. e-commerce giant reportedly garners a large part of its ad revenue from display ads, which also is Facebook's dominant advertising strategy, while Alphabet Inc.-owned Google uses search ads.

In a November 2018 job posting Amazon said its targeted product sampling is aimed to drive product awareness and sales by leveraging "customer data to allow brands to put their products in the hands of the right customers."

The company declined to comment on the Axios report.