Many companies are hesitant to do product sampling for the first time, and it's clear why. The costs are real: how much money are you spending on the samples? What if, after the sampling is done, no one actually buys the product? On the other hand, what is the cost of not sampling? Luckily, many companies have successfully sampled with great results. We've compiled the following four product sampling case studies that focus on what has worked and why.
Target Your Market Precisely: Mr. Drop Coffee
This article in Inc. profiles Gordon Grade and his Mr. Drop coffee. During finals week at NYU, the company handed out thousands of free samples of coffee to harried college students who were deprived of sleep as they prepared for finals. Is a tired college student interested in a caffeine boost? Yes. Are they likely to remember the product and consider buying it? It's likely.
One of the things we can learn from Grade's product sampling is that he defined his target market. Who wants coffee more than a fatigued college student? Grade introduced his samples not to the general public of Manhattan, but in a particular area near the campus where the participants likely felt like they needed the product. This case study is a great example of finding your audience and catering to them.
Use Social Media And Track Your Results: Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Depending on your company's offerings, a social media giveaway may be the perfect product sampling method. Not only can users "opt in" to receiving the product, but their online friends will be able to see their activity and interaction with your company. In 2009, Texas Pete Hot Sauce conducted a giveaway on Facebook to great success. Not only did their samples fly off of their digital shelves, but they were able to send recipients coupons that contained a special code. When customers redeemed these coupons, Texas Pete Hot Sauce could assess the rate of redemption.
Collecting data is valuable for any kind of marketing campaign, especially one that involves direct contact with customers like a social media giveaway. Product sampling is not just about giving your customers an experience of your product. It's also a technique to collect valuable information that has the capacity to inform all of your marketing campaigns. Before any samples are designed or distributed, consider how you will implement a mechanism to map your results.
Reward Existing Customers: Sephora
Sephora is well-known in some sales circles for including free product samples with every online purchase. This is a brilliant strategy for a couple of reasons. First, it encourages online sales because customers feel that they are getting a unique "freebee." Additionally, loyal customers have the experience of being rewarded for their business. Finally, because the sales are online and customers get to choose their own samples, Sephora can track whether those customers go on to buy the product during their next online shopping excursion.
There are a lot of rewards programs on the market these days and these programs enjoy varied levels of success. Sending product samples to existing customers does not place an extra burden on customers by making them carry a card or remember a code. It also builds a product sampling structure into the existing sales strategy instead of throwing product sampling in as an add-on.
Joining Dual Audiences: Snack Factory
This Upserve article chronicles Snack Factory, the maker of Pretzel Crisps, and their effective use of product sampling. This unique product is neither pretzel or chip, but a marriage of the two. Customers may be unlikely to try a product that they've never heard of before, but the typical American customer has tried a pretzel or a chip. By focusing on the existing markets for chips and for pretzels, Snack Factory was able to offer samples by building on these audiences' existing knowledge of such snack foods.
The article reports that almost 25% of individuals who sampled the Pretzel Chips during this promotion ended up purchasing the product.
The Heart of the Matter: Making Sampling Work for You
As with any marketing strategy, the key to product sampling is to use a strategy that works for your company. Studying the successes (and failures) of other companies can help you inform your approach. That being said, as an entrepreneur, you already have a lot on your plate. Sonas Marketing works with businesses like your to launch engagement marketing strategies for events and promotions. We apply our years of experience to making your product sampling promotion a success.