It’s hard to imagine someone buying a Costco membership just for the free samples, but it’s considerably easier to imagine a parent convincing their kid to smile through the shopping trip for a free chicken nugget or cookie. After more than a year of operating sample-free, Costco has begun to revive its in-store sampling program and has a target date for full-capacity seating at the food court.
Along with the stunningly cheap $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, the food samples are one of Costco’s hallmarks. Luckily for the wholesale giant, consumers are largely ready to get tasting again. According to a recent CivicScience study, nearly one-third of Americans consider themselves “very likely” to try samples at grocery stores when they’re provided again, with more than half at least somewhat likely.
Parents are slightly more likely than grandparents and non-parents to be interested in trying food samples at the store. Grandparents, however, are significantly more likely than parents to have no interest in food samples. Chalk it up to grandparents having kids with them at the store a bit less frequently, or just a general change in taste.
So what does this mean for Costco shoppers specifically? As you might expect, consumers with a favorable opinion of the Costco shopping experience are significantly more likely to try food samples at a grocery store when they’re provided again. More than two-fifths of Americans who are neutral toward Costco aren’t remotely interested in food samples, which outpaces both the favorable and unfavorable shoppers by a comfortable margin.
As much of the country relaxes the last pandemic regulations for a significantly more normal summer, Costco is taking the tentative approach of bringing back one of its signature staples. According to the data, a majority of Costco fans are already up for sampling around — and they might just have to snag a hot dog combo on their way out the door.