Lately, it’s been pointed out that for some products, the per unit price of samples is cheaper (sometimes significantly) than the full size price. I gathered some data on a few brands and product categories I was interested in. Here are the results.
The results by brand largely confirm what I already suspected. The more expensive the full sized product is, the cheaper (relatively speaking) the sample is. For Su:m37, Whoo, and Iope products, buying samples is a no brainer if you don’t mind the associated risks (more on that below). Nature Republic and Missha see some steep discounts as well, BUT my NR data consists of one product and Missha items are heavily promoted and discounted quite frequently . My Innisfree data is one product as well, but the sample was actually more expensive per ml than the real product. Innisfree products are already very affordable. This make sense.
Turns out, eye cream samples are 4% the cost of full size eye cream products. I rarely buy eye creams but am now tempted to pick up some Su:m37 secret programming eye cream samples. The most surprising finding here for me is that sun products ranked so high. I had expected them to come in at the bottom with cleansers and hair products, but the cost difference for samples is actually on par with creams and ampoules. I go through sunscreens faster than anything else so I’m pretty excited about this.
A Note Regarding Samples
Before getting too excited and starting a stock pile of samples, keep in mind that samples do not come with any freshness information. You won’t find a manufacturing date or expiration date so you run the risk of using expired product. My way of mediating this risk is by limiting the amount of samples I buy at a time and using them up as quickly as possible. If you like to hoard beauty products, stick to full size. Additionally, I imagine weight/volume consistency is extremely difficult to maintain with 1 ml packets. In the part two post for this experiment, that will be one of the main things I look at.
Scope of Data
The results above are not comprehensive of all samples. I started this project planning to at least include everything being offered on TesterKorea (the largest selection of samples for sale I could find) but the sheer volume of samples is overwhelming and I was really only interested in a handful of products and brands. The raw data is here, in case anyone is interested. For the charts above, I only included items where I had data on both samples and full sized items.
I focused on brands and items that are on the pricier side or that I am interested in trying / have tried. For example, almost all Su:m37 and History of Whoo products available on TK made my analysis. I threw in a few items from Innisfree and Nature Republic just to see if there is any sort of pricing advantage for those items.
Another thing I noticed is that the prices on samples at TesterKorea have changed, sometimes fairly significantly. I started my list at the beginning of February and noticed this morning more than half of the prices I had listed were out of date. As such, everything used in my analysis is up to date as of 2/13 but are probably subject to change. However, the changes do not affect my general observations regarding the samples.
A Note on Product Availability
TK carried a lot of samples that they did not carry the full size for. I wish I had kept track of the breakdown, but for the items I looked at it had to have been over 50%. For those products, I was able to find most of them on other sites. However, this is another important consideration, especially if you intend to invest in full size items in the future. For Su:m37, History of Whoo, I could find the corresponding full size product for 90% of the products I found samples for (mostly on KoreaDepart). For Ohui, I found almost none on any of the sites I looked at. Of course, you may have more look ordering directly from Korea through Avecko.
One of the best things about Asian Beauty products is that relative to their Western counterparts, they are generally cheaper and more effective. My original plan in gathering this data was to figure out how to hack the system and get the more expensive Korean beauty products for cheaper. Given the freshness concerns, I’m honestly not so sure anymore but I do have a few History of Whoo samples on their merry way. Once I receive them, I plan to weigh and transfer the sample products into permanent containers and report back on how the actual weight and volume of samples holds up.