Vicky BoydIf done right, handing out samples at farmers markets can influence that days' consumer purchases as well as future purchases.Handing out samples is a good way to boost farmers' market sales, according to a survey conducted by the University of Kentucky.
In fact, 55 percent of respondents to the survey bought what they sampled even though they hadn't originally planned to do so.
Previous surveys had shown that vendors often considered sampling a hassle or labor intensive, according to a news release.
Others noted that they were unsure about the benefits of sampling.
Researchers in the university's College of Agriculture conducted the web-based 2011 Regional Farm Market Sampling Survey that comprised 3,406 responses from market patrons across eight states.
Among the criteria that influenced sales were vendor friendliness, sample presentation, market atmosphere, sampling with friends or family, and interaction with the vendor.
The effects of sampling also influenced future purchases and referrals, according to the release.
For more information on conducting a sampling program, download "Best Practices for Sampling at Farmers Markets: A Practical Guide for Farmers Market Vendors" from the University of Kentucky.