Presumably you’ve been a customer in a supermarket before and have noticed the small kiosk where a disgruntled looking employee is handing out free samples of a new snack? This is product sampling in its simplest form and whilst it might not look particularly glamorous and could seem a little antiquated in this great, technological age, it’s actually one of the most powerful and effective forms of marketing available to any company, no matter how big or small.
What is Product Sampling?
As the name suggests, any business offering Product Sampling Services is essentially giving away a small amount of a product (for which they would normally charge a fee) in order to entice consumers to head further down the rabbit hole and purchase more. The reasoning behind sampling, is that a proportion of the consumers who enjoy whatever they’ve sampled will return as paying customers, but of course it doesn’t always work out that way, so many might see product sampling as something of a gamble. But then, are not all forms of marketing a gamble in essence? And how can you ever hope to win if you don’t play the game?
Common misconceptions surrounding product sampling include assumptions that it’s a simple process, when in fact it is anything but. Whilst the concept itself might indeed be rather straightforward, there are many eclectic techniques and tactics to consider, and of course, the process will differ greatly depending on what product or service is being marketed.
Product Sampling Methods
There are numerous methods available when to it comes to product sampling services, most of which can be organised and run in co-operation with a decent Field Marketing Agency. Here we’ll take you through a few of the more common, though be advised that this list is in no way extensive, and what methods you choose should be tailored to the consumers you want to end up paying for your goods and/or services.
- Selective Sampling – You could send samples directly to potential customers either through the mail or online through email and social media. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your samples are sent to consumers who are more likely to return as repeat customers, which means you’ll need to do a lot of profiling and segmenting, which can prove costly. However, by reaching the desired target market directly, you could see a significant turnaround. As a test, you might want to try sending out products to those who have already expressed an interest in your brand.
- Batch Sampling – Alternatively, you could send bulk samples to larger companies, which will in turn distribute them amongst consumers. This is a little hit-or-miss by design, but is a lot more affordable than selective sampling, so could be a valid option for smaller businesses.
- Street Team Sampling – Hire a street team to distribute samples on busy high streets and shopping malls, if possible, make sure your team are working in close proximity to location where your product is on sale. The drawback with this method is the cost, as you’ll need to employ a distribution team and design packaging to attract attention. However, there’s a very high reach associated with this method, and if the team are well trained, they will know exactly who to target.
- Event Sampling – This refers to taking the product to an event such as a music festival or trade show, and will usually be undertaken in partnership with a sponsor. It’s effectiveness depends on how relevant the product is with the event in question. For example, giving away energy drinks at a music festival makes sense, whereas free washing powder does not!
- Super Market Sampling – The classic method that everyone already associates with the practice. Though it could seem antiquated, it’s still a very effective way of getting the word out about a product, and is especially convenient, as sampling booths are usually set up right next to the wherever the product is being displayed. The problem with this method is that audience targeting is tricky, and many customers might take the free samples for granted, and see them as little more than a brief distraction from the rigours of the weekly shop.
- Free Trials – This is a particularly popular method used with digital products, and is an incredibly cost effective way of getting people familiar with your product before they decide to take the plunge and shell out for the full package. The downside of a free trial program is that, with software, there is always the chance of your product being hacked and downloaded illegally for free. But the risks are worth it in the long run, as realistically, there are people out there who will find a way to hack your software regardless of whether or not you release a free trial.