Not so long ago, the classic ‘try before you buy’ tactic used to encourage consumers to purchase was at a crossroads. With online retail in its infancy, first time e-shoppers confronted with the concept of purchasing, say, shoes or clothing from an online store, were most likely hesitant about taking a risk on something so personal. How would they know if they liked the items, or if they’d fit properly?

Fast forward to today and millions of happy customers later, it’s safe to say that e-commerce companies have successfully overcome the fear factor. No one wants to get stuck with a product that doesn’t work or doesn’t fit and as a result more and more companies are not only shipping goods to their customers for free, they are also paying for the return shipping if their customers want to return goods, essentially making it as easy to ‘try before you buy’ online as you can in-store. This has resulted in a case of ‘one step backwards, two steps forward’, as try before you buy is now more popular than ever. A recent example comes from retail giant Tesco, who launched an in-store taste test to promote its own-brand to-go foods where customers were invited to taste any branded Tesco to-go product before deciding on a purchase.

So how does the ‘try before you buy’ concept resonate with mums, in terms of both online and in-store shopping? According to our recent research the answer is ‘very much’. In fact, just four percent of the mums we spoke to said that trying a new product first ‘never’ influences their buying decisions, compared to 49% who said it ‘absolutely’ influences their buying decisions, and 47% who said it ‘partially’ influences their buying decisions. Asked why trying before you buy influences them, the most popular answer was, ‘It made me aware of a product I didn’t know about’ (47%), followed by, ‘I don’t want to waste my money on something I don’t like’ (36%), then, ‘I always buy the same thing because I don’t know what else to buy’ (11%), and finally, ‘It reminded me of a product I like, but had forgotten about’ (5%).

Hayley Miggins, 32, a mother of two boys aged five and two, says her network of close female friends – the majority of whom are mothers too – are pretty similar in terms of their shopping habits, and tend to share their latest supermarket ‘finds’ over coffee, or on Facebook, in particular new products. “Like me, most of my mum friends are essentially conservative when it comes to shopping habits, and it takes a certain something for us to change what we buy every week – it’s essentially a fear of the unknown, which sounds a bit dramatic, but that seems to be the way it is. So the chance to actually try something new out first, before buying, will always inspire my friends and I to buy it. And once one of us has it, the news usually spreads among us.”

If we look at the results of our survey regionally we can see that mums in London are the most likely to have their purchase decision influence by trying before they buy with 54% of them saying that is ‘absolutely’ influences their purchasing decisions. This is followed by mums in the rest of the South East, of which 52% said that trying before they buy influences their purchasing decisions, and then on average about half of mums in the South West, West Midlands, East Midlands and North West said the option to try a product before buying said it influenced their purchasing decisions. Mums in Yorkshire and Humberside are least likely to be swayed by trying first.

In terms of why trying a new product influences purchasing on a regional level, mums in Yorkshire and Humberside are the most likely to say it’s because they don’t want to waste money on something they don’t like (44%), whereas those in the South East are most likely to view it as a chance to become educated about new products (54% in London and 50% in the rest of the South East) , they also said that trying before they buy influences their purchasing decisions because it ‘makes them aware of products they previously hadn’t heard of’.

We know that mums are strapped for time – in terms of travel, household management, childcare management, bill payment, food preparation, work and much more – all of which gives us some insight as to why these women tend to be habitual shoppers, it is mainly because, quite frankly, it’s easy – they know what they’re getting each week and there are no arguments in the home. Getting them to add new products to their basket is tricky (as shown other research we’ve carried out) but offering them the chance to ‘try before they buy’ is a great way of encouraging them to go on a purchase new products.

Get in touch today to find out more about how Talk to Mums can help you get your products into the right hands.

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