Exploring the Power of Reciprocity for Your Business


In the ever more competitive world of business, sometimes it’s not enough to have an ingenious new product, to do things in an eco-friendlier way, or even to have lower prices. The sheer number of businesses in each sector popping up online makes appealing to new customers and retaining them quite difficult – especially if you can’t buy into one of Google’s search engine advertising spots.

So, you’re likely looking for a way to tick all of the boxes: stand out among your competitors; attract and retain new customers; and increase brand awareness. To achieve this, you can tap into the human psyche through reciprocity. In business, what this translates to is offering something for free, as in the age-old practice of giving away free samples. As long as you deliver on the promises of free stuff, reciprocity can be a powerful ally.It can be included in a welcome email, asa strong first impression counts for a lot.

What is reciprocity, and how does it work in business?

Reciprocity is a socially-conditioned sense of wanting to give back having received a gift or something pleasant. It’s a normality in society and underpins what we perceive as people being good to each other, making an exchange for mutual benefit. What’s important is that as we grow older, our early teachings of sharing and reciprocating kind acts become ingrained as a tendency, with displeasure at a lack of reciprocity, further enforcing it as a common personality trait.

In the rule of reciprocation, it’s been found that an act of generosity, a material gift, or a kind deed can all trigger this strong reciprocity impulse. The reciprocating act doesn’t have to be an exact match, with some reciprocating with a perceivably greater or less valuable act, but those returning the favor – so to speak – also feel good for doing so. As such, a method of initiating this first step of reciprocity can not only earn your business goodwill, but it can also further enforce the good experience of the customer by giving them the opportunity to reciprocate.

In business, naturally, the first question that you’d ask is, “why would I give my products or services away for free?” However, if you offer a strong product that the customer perceives as valuable, you immediately connect to them and open the door to reciprocity and begin to build the trust that’s especially necessary for new or small brands. Perhaps more importantly for your business, the stats on free giveaways are quite staggering, with nearly 70 percent of people saying that sampling alone persuaded them to make a purchase.

Examples of businesses offering free samples to tap into reciprocity

Offering free product samples, lite versions of your product, or free entry to your service can bolster your brand in several ways. It introduces your brand and products to a wider range of people because of the inherent accessibility of it being free. In turn, you create brand trust, and even brand loyalty with several more people than those who are simply actively looking for a new brand to use. The one free sample – or even better, a regular program of small free giveaways – can create a strong desire to reciprocate with more purchases.

You’ll see this with a fair few online service, such as Dropbox. Its free sample is clear-cut as you create an account and get 2GB of cloud storage. Then, you upgrade to the monthly subscription to get a huge bump to get at least 2000GB. You can even offer the whole product for free as a kind of demo. This can be seen on different platforms, such as in VegasSlotsOnline,where they have free and real money mobile slot games. Rather than having to pay per spin and then decide if you like a game, they have free mobile slots that are instantly accessible. So, players become more comfortable playing real money slots, having found the free equivalent that they like. This is also commonly replicated in welcome bonuses, as sites offer free spins as a way of attracting new players and familiarising them with the titles they have.

Of course, the classic example of free samples comes from the food industry, and those that utilize the internet to connect to customers are still making the most of the principle of reciprocity. A fine example of this is Simply Cook. When you sign up, you get a free box of your selection of recipe kits – which is the same as you’d get if you later subscribe – and you only need to pay the cut-price postage. Graze works similarly, but with a set selection of sample boxes. This isn’t a bad approach either, as you can decide to showcase your strongest products or test the waters for newer ranges with new customers.

Reciprocity has worked for businesses for decades: you just need to work out the best way to make it a viable marketing venture for you. Appealing to new customers is the common pursuit, but near-unbreakable brand loyalty can be developed through regular small free sample giveaways to those who commit after the initial free sample.