Product sampling is nothing new. From grocery store booths to make-up counters, product trial has long been a cornerstone tactic for bricks and mortar retailers. But, unlike a lot of many traditional  marketing strategies that have fumbled in the face of our new e-comm dominated landscape, the power of sampling is only getting stronger.

One tactic, multiple outcomes

Smart marketers know that sampling offers a powerful tool to drive brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and increase sales. This is because it offers one simple thing that no other marketing effort does: it puts something physical into a consumers hands.

According to a survey conducted by Australia Post, 68% are more likely to purchase a product after trying it.*

Sampling also allows brands to generate consumer feedback — an invaluable asset, particularly in the e-commerce space. 

An online survey of 2,005 American shoppers, conducted by Weber Shandwick (2012), and KRC research, showed that, as a result of consumer reviews, 65% of potential consumers selected a brand that had not been in their original consideration set.*

The bottom line? Getting people talking about your products online is a great way to generate sales. And product sampling is a great way to help start those conversations.


Sampling 101

To be sure you’re getting the most out of your sampling activities, here are a few basic questions you should ask yourself:


Is sampling the right strategy for my product?

Yes big question for often overlooked. 

What are your key objectives?

Brand awareness, launching a new product, getting feedback to inform product development, boosting sales?

Who is your target market?

Are you wanting to deepen engagement with existing customers, or attract new ones? 

Where is your target market? : how can you make sure your sampling campaign reaches your target market?

It is so important to make sure your sampling campaign reaches your target audience - sampling can be an expensive waste of time & money if you're not getting product in the right hands! Research shows that product samples delivered in a lifestyle-relevant environment, within an active context, can boost trial and resulting purchase behavior to a greater extent than virtually any other consumer promotion tactic. For example: if you are a protein bar, sampling to gym goers in localised gyms would be a apt choice over meeting a non specific audience on a random street corner. 

How can supporting marketing tactics be used to drive better results?

For instance, will you offer a discount for follow-up purchase, or include other marketing collateral with your sample? 

How can I amplify my sampling activation? 

The best sampling activations reinforce your core brand messages. Ensure your campaign is aligned with your brand strategy and messaging at all times, and look at ways to amplify the campaign beyond the physical world into social and digital channels. What can I do to encourage my target market to spread the word on social channels? 

How can I measure the effectiveness of my sampling activation? 

This comes right back to your objectives and understand what other promotional strategies are being executed during a sampling campaign. Don't take the spray and pray approach - set measures pre campaign and see where they end up post campaign. 

Make sure your sample is fit for purpose and commands attention. 

Is it an ample size so that consumers can truly experience the product? Does it replicate the 'on shelf' appearance so consumers can easily find the product in store? Does it need supporting information to explain the benefits? Don't fall victim to 'me too' sampling tactics that fail to connect with their audience and do what they are supposed to - drive consumers into store. 


Sampling should not be a throw way exercise for junior marketers.

According to an IMI International Study quoted in Chief Marketer,  “sampling has the greatest impact on consumer purchase, a consistent finding for the past 15 years.”

It is a powerful tool which can build brand loyalty, grow your tribe and most importantly drive conversion. So get out there marketers and embrace the old gold of product sampling. 

We’re here to help, contact our team here.

Author: Hazel Squair

Source: Australia PostCSIRO, Weber shandwick