Trader Joe’s finally brings back free samples

Oct 6, 2022, 5:09 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 11:42 pm
Customers shop at the Trader Joe's Upper East Side Bridgemarket grocery store in New York, U.S., on...
Customers shop at the Trader Joe's Upper East Side Bridgemarket grocery store in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. The century-old vaulted market under the Queensboro Bridge has reopened on Thursday as a Trader Joe's. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(CNN) — Freebies are back at the grocery store after a long pandemic hiatus.

Trader Joe’s brought back in-store food samples at some stores on Saturday. Shoppers posted videos and photos on TikTok, Instagram and other social platforms of some of Trader Joe’s samples over the weekend, including granola and Halloween cookies.

Trader Joe’s will offer up single-serve snacks and treats for customers to nibble on, but hot coffee won’t return, according to employees at New York and California stores. Food demos will come back to some stores, but Trader Joe’s won’t relaunch them nationwide. Trader Joe’s did not respond to requests for more information on the program.

“I’m excited. You used to get the coffee cups. The samples make everything a little bit better,” said Natasha Fischer, who runs @traderjoeslist, an Instagram account and newsletter documenting the latest Trader Joe’s finds.

Free samples are a common sales tactic for many supermarkets and food and drink brands.

Companies want you to have a bite at the store to get your saliva glands working as you browse around, said Paco Underhill, the founder of behavioral research and consulting firm Envirosell and author of “How We Eat: The Brave New World of Food and Drink. This makes you a less disciplined shopper, he said. Sampling a product also slows customers down and gets them to linger longer in the store, increasing the chances they’ll add more items to their carts.

Startup food brands rely on store demos to introduce customers to their products and get their feedback, said Yuval Selik, the CEO of Promomash, a company that works with brands on samples and promotion strategy. He pointed to KeVita kombucha, Beyond Meat and Kashi cereal as emerging brands that used samples to grow.

But food brands took a hit when stores removed sample tables early in the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

They were slow to bring back the perk. More companies have resumed, but some of their procedures have changed to try to entice hygiene-conscious customers. Customers are likelier to now see workers stationed behind tables handing out packaged samples or in single-use cups than self-serve demos.

Costco began bringing back samples in 2021, but added plexiglass stations. Contract workers hand out prepared and cooked items to customers one at a time from behind the stations.

Sam’s Club also brought back its Taste & Tips demo program last year. It offers everything from snacks to deli meats.

At first, Taste & Tips returned on weekends and in limited quantities with sealed samples. The company works with suppliers to select and schedule demos of their items. They’re often new items, which allows shoppers to sample them before they buy.

“Demos have long been one of our members’ favorite experiences when they visit our clubs,” a Sam’s Club spokesperson said.

Whole Foods has brought back samples, but there are some differences.

The biggest change is that if a state or city has a mask mandate, Whole Foods will not have open sampling in the store and will only have packaged samples available.

Since the company rolled out grocery delivery and pickup across the country during the pandemic, it also began placing samples in some orders at select locations during different times of year.

Small brands lost out when in-store samples paused, but demos are beginning to return to pre-Covid levels, Selik said. He expects them to increase further next year.

“I think 2023 is going to be huge for samples.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Elizabeth Wolfe and Mallika Kallingal, CNN

Moscow police say a sixth person on the lease isn’t involved in the Idaho student killings

The Moscow Police Department said on Friday that they don't believe a sixth person listed on the lease at the residence, where four University of Idaho students were killed last month, was involved in their deaths.
23 hours ago
FILE: This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pre...
AMANDA SEITZ, Associated Press

US plans end to mpox public health emergency in January

The federal government plans to end in January the public health emergency it declared earlier this year after an outbreak of mpox left more than 29,000 people across the U.S. infected.
23 hours ago
FILE - This undated artist rending provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a U.S. Air Force graphic of...
TARA COPP Associated Press

Pentagon debuts its new stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider

The United States' newest nuclear stealth bomber is making its public debut after years of secret development. The new bomber is part of the Pentagon's answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China.
23 hours ago
FILE: LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  The Airbnb logo is displayed on a computer screen on August 3, ...
Shay O'Connor

Families of tourists found dead in Mexico Airbnb plan to file lawsuit

A news conference was held Thursday with the mothers who lost their children last month in Mexico to carbon monoxide poisoning at an Airbnb.
23 hours ago
F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Department of Justice on ...
ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

FBI director raises national security concerns about TikTok

FBI Director Chris Wray is raising national security concerns about TikTok, warning Friday that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government “that doesn't share our values.”
23 hours ago
Flyer for killings of University of Idaho students...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Deaths of 4 Idaho students fuel online sleuths

The deaths of four University of Idaho students nearly three weeks ago has riled up thousands of would-be armchair sleuths, many of whom are posting speculation and unfounded rumors about the fatal stabbings online.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Trader Joe’s finally brings back free samples