I really love post #7's idea of sampling the E book! Then you could listen while you shop! It would definitely work on me. I would probably buy the book straight away so I could find out what happens next. On the downside, I think if I were shopping while listening to an eBook, I would completely forget half of my grocery list. I can barely manage to remember to buy everything when I paying attention.
Lotions could be easily given out as product samples in a grocery store.
For a more original spin, eBooks/audio book could be sampled in a store if an audio station is set up, allowing customers to listen to a segment of the book through head phones. The customer could then purchase the product through a smart phone or similar device.
Air Fresheners could be "sampled" much in the same way perfumes are in department stores. I wouldn't want someone rubbing it on me, but being able to smell a sample card along with a coupon might entice me to purchase a product to try out.
Anything that doesn't require much preparation or expertise would work. If something requires anything more than heating up, it can get over or undercooked, or some other problem that would actually make people less likely to buy the product. So I think sampling might work best with products like paper towels, cleaning products, etc. I have to say I usually don't sample much of what they have to offer at supermarkets.
I really appreciate the new ideas that have been suggested above - I hope someone sends these ideas to the people in charge of arranging supermarket sampling assignments!
How about laundry detergents or detergents for washing dishes? Customers could see for themselves which detergent removed the ink from the fabric with the least effort, or could find out how long it took the suds to cut through the grease on a casserole dish.
In addition to food, drinks would obviously work pretty well. I suppose that it would be somewhat logical to have a "sample" table for something like paper towels. Customers could use the paper towels to blot up water that would be poured out on the table.
While it would make sense for supermarkets to provide only free food samples in their stores, there are other products which could be sampled in the same way.
1. Antibacterial products- People are more and more aware of the germs which exist in the world. Customers who are pushing carts through a store may appreciate a sample of an antibacterial product (lotion, gel, or spray).
2. During the cold and flu season, a company could sample tissues.
3. Again during the cold and flu season, a company could sample cough drops or lozenges.
4. During the summer season, providing customers with samples of sunscreen may be beneficial (especially during the week preceding holiday weekends).