This Vending Machine Gives Out Free Samples

“There is nothing better than free stuff” is a common philosophy shared by most Singaporeans.

This is evident in queues for gifts and sales, or walking through the supermarket to munch on free food samples.

Admit it or not – basically everyone has a kiasu side for them.

However, Elitez Asia’s Eevann Seah told Vulcan Post that despite the love of freebies, around a third of Singaporeans are still reluctant to approach a promoter who is handing out free samples.

This is why Eevann and his team are convinced that Aunt Sam is sure to win the hearts of Singaporeans.

Free samples of Laksa with beer

auntie sam free sample vending machine
A queue for free samples of Auntie Sam / Image credit: Auntie Sam via Facebook

Auntie Sam is a vending machine that distributes samples. It is free to anyone with a registered Singaporean phone number.

All users need to do is create a free account so they can claim a free sample every week. You can also pay a small fee of S $ 0.99 to distribute three samples per week.

According to Eevann, at least eight to 14 different samples are distributed each week. This week, customers can treat themselves to a can of Carlsberg beer or an instant laksa from Prima Taste.

Over the past six weeks, he’s been giving away samples of popular food and drink brands like Loacker, Kellogg’s and Ribena. It also contains products like toothpaste and shower gel.

auntie sam free sample vending machine
Image Credit: Auntie Sam via Instagram

Auntie Sam is currently located within NTUC FairPrice at Ang Mo Kio Hub, and machine users can earn Sam Points just by handing out a free sample and leaving product reviews.

If users decide to purchase the product from NTUC after the free sample, they can download a receipt of their purchase to receive 10 points.

Despite only being there six weeks, Auntie Sam already has over 9,000 subscribers and over 20,000 redemptions have been made.

According to Eevann, even though the crowd at Ang Mo Kio Hub is made up of a more mature demographic, they are more inclined to scan QR codes due to Covid-19.

Therefore, signing up to collect Auntie Sam’s samples is not too intimidating for them.

Aunt Sam’s Biggest Cause

auntie sam free sample vending machine
Image Credit: Auntie Sam

Auntie Sam is an initiative of Elite, a human resources company specializing in consumer goods (FMCG) as one of its core services.

Some of their services include deploying promoters to promote various products for supermarket customers.

However, when Covid-19 hit, brand sampling became impossible, even though it was still a crucial aspect for many FMCG companies.

Having a vending machine capable of dispensing samples was a cheaper and easier alternative for brands to continue to advertise and market their products.

Additionally, the cost of displaying samples in Auntie Sam is lower for brands, compared to the standard rate of S $ 12 per hour for a human promoter.

“We also give customers the power to choose. For example, with cereals, they can choose to eat them however they like at home, rather than having to eat them right away at the supermarket, ”Eevann said.

However, Aunt Sam could have a short lifespan if not integrated into the hearts of Singaporeans quickly enough.

Eevann fears that once food sampling resumes, brands could focus all of their attention on pre-Covid processes to “catch up on what they missed.”

Will Aunt Sam replace human promoters?

food promoter
Image Credit: Freshcano

Eevann believes that Auntie Sam is a hybrid of above and below the line marketing.

Over the line marketing refers to advertisements that are largely untargeted and have wide reach, such as advertisements at bus stops.

On the other hand, marketing advertising below the line is targeted, just like a promoter in a supermarket.

While customers can interact with Auntie Sam, they can also display advertisements through the machine.

However, Eevann told Vulcan Post that there are “some things humans can do that machines won’t replace.”

This includes explaining the unique selling points of products to customers, providing them with a highly personalized experience.

In addition, many promoters have regular clients and are able to build long-term relationships with them.

Where is Aunt Sam going next?

auntie sam free sample vending machine
Image Credit: Auntie Sam

Auntie Sam is expected to make an appearance at Jurong Point in November.

The team aims to deploy the vending machine in at least eight locations on the island by the end of 2020.

However, they do not plan to stop at only FMCG products. Eevann shared that makeup samples could be on the agenda as well, as the team aims to partner with stores like Sephora.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also part of the plan.

Much like the mask vending machines that have been deployed around the island due to Covid-19, the team plans to deploy Auntie Sam machines with basic necessities for low-income families.

They are also in the process of developing an application which will be a “sampling ecosystem”, where individuals can share the products they have sampled with a larger community.

“We want to create a lifestyle where when Singaporeans think of free sampling, they think of Auntie Sam,” Eevann said.

Featured Image Credit: Auntie Sam

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Jothi Venkat

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