Presents of Mind

Free for All

What: Free product samples given to vacationers
Who: Brian Martin of Market Connections International
Where: Montclair, New Jersey
When: Started in 2001

Who hasn't taken a trip and forgotten to pack a tube of toothpaste? Brian Martin, a former brand manager for Wyeth Consumer Healthcare (marketer of such products as Advil and Chapstick), saw this recurring problem as the perfect opportunity to get consumers to sample new products.

"Why not get them at a time when they're open to trying new things; when they have the time to consider new ideas and are in need of these products?" explains Martin, 29. After all, it's a lot harder to get a consumer's attention when he or she is at home.

Martin's company distributes free gift packs filled with sample health and beauty products to hotels, national park campsites, resorts and cruise lines nationwide. It's what you might call a "win-win-win" situation: Guests are more than happy to receive the gifts, properties like distributing them (at no cost), and manufacturers are able to distribute free product samples for less money.

Luckily for Martin, lots of vacationers neglect to pack essential toiletries-2002 sales are set to surpass $2 million.

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This article was originally published in the November 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Presents of Mind.

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