2017 Volume 60 Issue 1 Pages 3-15
The distribution of free samples is known to be an effective tool for sales promotion. By means of event-related brain potentials (ERPs), the present study examined whether tasting a food sample has a stronger effect on brand perception than merely reading a leaflet about the product. Thirty-two university students were asked to read a leaflet about a certain confection brand (target product, either baked cake or chocolate) with or without tasting a sample (n = 16 each). They then performed a category classification task in which 12 colored pictures of different confection brand packages (six baked cakes and six chocolates) were presented one by one in a random order. The participants’ task was to press a button whenever the pictures of the designated confection category (i.e., the category other than the category of the target product) appeared on the screen. ERP responses to the target brand and the other five brands in the same category were compared. The results showed that the specific effect of sampling appeared only from about 500 ms. The target brand elicited a larger late positive potential (LPP) than the other brands only for the participants who sampled it. The findings suggest that, compared with merely reading the information about a product, tasting a sample makes the brand more motivationally salient than the other brands in the same food category.