Product sampling should be a key part of your marketing strategy, and if your business produces an FMCG, then you should certainly allocate budget to sampling. Sampling allows consumers to taste, smell, see and touch your products ‘for real’ bringing them to life in a way that a TV or radio advertisement just cannot.
Food and drink producers have long used samples in tiny cups, or on toothpicks to give their potential customers enough of a taste to make it memorable, without losing profit unnecessarily. Having samples ready for people to try on counters or beside displays – where they can pick up a product to buy immediately – is a tried and tested method. It’s about getting the balance right. A solid sampling programme across retail outlets should be planned, especially for a new product launch, or a new flavour of an established brand.
Face to Face
Having a person offering samples adds another dimension and helps build the emotional connection. Using the right product sampling staff can have a huge impact too. They should be confident and approachable without being pushy, and of course, it goes without saying that they should be knowledgeable about the product and able to answer any questions. In many ways, it remains the most effective way of helping consumers make their purchasing decision.
Previously, companies might not have collected any feedback or information about what people thought of their samples and with technology today there is scope to track the effectiveness of your sampling campaign. Take the Doritos example; theirs used a scannable chip that they gave to people sampling to see if they went on to make a purchase. Even if your activity isn’t at that stage yet, a survey or questionnaire should be considered to give you data to shape further marketing activity, and product sampling staff could help deliver that.
If you have an ecommerce site you could consider including a sample of a product in with a customer’s order. You already have someone who knows your brand, and everyone likes something for nothing! It might encourage a repeat order and build loyalty.
Offering free samples online in a ‘try before you buy’ mechanic gives potential customers a sense of transparency and confidence in your business. Many consumers prefer to feel a product before they buy, and for B2B customers, who might be spending a large procurement budget, the added certainty of having experienced your product can make the difference between a sale and going elsewhere.
Consumers are increasingly busy people and with so many advertisers pushing messages their way, it is even more important that businesses achieve cut-through for their product. Motivating them to pick up your product, even if it wasn’t on their list, is key in the buying process, and sampling can do that.