• pop up stand to support Convenience retail sampling

How Sparkling Ice used experiential sampling to drive sales

Low calorie fruit drink Sparkling Ice used experiential sampling to drive retail sales and attract new listings by sampling across convenience retailers, supermarkets, consumer locations and trade shows. Their core objective was to drive positive taste trial to show that their low calorie, zero sugar fruit drink delivers on taste and to their drive sales within UK stockists.

Marketing Product Sampling Vehicle Sparkling Ice-Bristol


To achieve their retail growth goals, Link designed, built and toured the following mix of sampling equipment and branded assets

  • PORTABLE SAMPLING CART: A branded sampling trike with ice chest and portable carts – to enable sampling at high street Convenience Retailers like Sainsburys Local, Boots, Tesco Metro and W H Smiths.
  • BRANDED PROMOTIONAL VEHICLE: A VW camper van with a giant sized Sparkling Ice bottle mounted to the roof, full graphic wrap, internal bar fridges and PA system – to sample at train stations, at food festivals and targeted events.
  • EXPERIENTIAL SAMPLING AREA: A colour changing bar counter, with multi coloured lighting, reflective of the range of colours of the flavours of the Sparkling Ice fruit range – to use at events, trade shows, malls and high streets.
  • EXHIBITION DISPLAY EQUIPMENT: A mix of branded gazebos and dome tents, summer deck chairs, ice buckets, funky uniforms, display signage, POS materials – and a bottle shaped flyer with one design for consumers and one for trade.


Tesco awarded Sparkling ice with a trial national listing in ambient soft drinks. To ensure that the listing was secured and to explain the positioning into the Food To Go aisle, a national tour was routed and implemented to drive both awareness and sales. A pop up sampling event tent with the VW camper bar was set up in front of the main entrance of each Tesco, to present the range, offer sample tasters, engage shoppers and convert purchase. On average, the Tesco tour achieved average sales uplifts of over 300 units per store, per day; on what was then a newly listed and comparatively unknown brand.

Experiential Marketing Product Sampling Sparkling Ice - C Retail Case Study in Supermarkets


High street stockists serving the Food To Go sector are vital for soft drinks, so a wide remit of the sampling strategy was aligned to activate sales at these stockists. Boots, Sainsbury Supermarkets, Sainsburys Local, Co-op, Spar and WHSmith across London and in each major city were reached using a combination of the VW camper Van Bar, the portable sampling trike and compact sampling carts. The teams offered chilled sip samples to shoppers going into store and walking past on the busy high streets – with the offer of a whole bottle as a BOGOF if they made a purchase in store, resulting in sales of over 250 per day, from small scale retailers.

Experiential Marketing Product Sampling Sparkling Ice - C Retail Case Study in Supermarkets


A mix of roaming sampling outside the main entrances of the stations and experiential sampling located on the central concourse with paid for site fees helped Sparkling Ice to achieve massive scale reach of over 50,000 commuters per day. In addition to the brand exposure and sample out reach, the stations were selected for both footfall and also stockists such as WHSmith Travel and Boots. Advance planning with stores enabled bulk volumes of stock available to purchase in store on each event day. This targeted and coordinated tactic lead to some of the busiest sites such as main line train stations with WHS stockists uplift their sales by as much as 500 units per store, per day.

Experiential Marketing Product Sampling Sparkling Ice - C Retail Case Study in Supermarkets


To help attain press coverage in both consumer and trade media, the sampling tour stopped in at a mix of London’s leading media houses. Journalists from all publications received a range of chilled samples, along with aligned media messaging. This was implemented in conjunction with the brand’s PR agency, who took the lead on developing the conversation with journalists at each publication reached. The media days helped the brand to achieve mass scale coverage on both traditional press and their social media channels.


The value of getting the product into the hands of London’s fashionistas and media influencers was a priority for the brand and their PR agency. A tour of the capital’s leading model agencies was coordinated, with each office revision bulk quantities of stock, to keep them hydrated through a hot summer. Many of the models and agencies were pleased to post a positive tweet or pic on Insta, leading to thousands of likes and shares across a broad range of social channels.


Mass scale audience reach upwards of 50,000 shoppers per day was achieved by positioning the full experiential sampling event area, with VW Camper Van and colour changing bar counter on high streets and malls. Peak weekend shopping days were scheduled across a mix of the most fashionable high streets in London and across major cities of the UK. These sites provided both huge audience reach of 40,000 receptive shoppers per day using sip sampling of chilled tasters from across the range. High street sites were also ideal for large scale social media content creation by rewarding shoppers with whole bottles for positive posts, likes and shares on social platforms.

Convenience retail sampling at train stations


Take over event days were organised and implemented across a range of important stockists to the brand. Coverage at leading supermarket chains such as Tesco head office and convenience retailers such as Boots all had full event days for corporate relationship development. These events attracted the buyer, along side the entire buying team and every colleague working at the head office; who all received a selection of sample tasters and whole bottles to take away too.


The portable sampling trike and VW sampling van were utilised to reach and engage buyers of potential new stockists. A range of head offices which open directly out on to public highway were targeted to include a wish list of supermarkets, convenience retailers and food service companies. Trade specific flyers were handed out along side the samples, and the retail account team followed up to invite the buyers down to enjoy the samples while their sampling team were in town.

Experiential Marketing Product Sampling Sparkling Ice - C Retail Case Study in Supermarkets


The sampling roadshow attended in range of fashionable food festivals, including Foodies Festivals in London and major cities of the UK. These events provided a relaxed platform for longer dwell time with customers, enabling wider usage demonstrations such as cocktail and mocktails; in addition to sampling. Direct sales deals were promoted and achieved for single bottles, four packs and for gin cocktails blended using the drink. In addition to the sampling and sales; social media was also a core part of the activity at food festivals – with participants rewarded with whole bottles for posting their pics to the brand hashtags.


A range of demographically aligned athletic events, music concerts and spectator sports were reach by the team. The use of the VW Camper sampling van enabled flexible deployment without the need for cost prohibitive site fees. This allowed the team to attend some of the largest scale, most prestigious music festivals, participatory race events and mass scale sporting fixtures, reaching all of the event goers for a fraction of the normal site fees.


Compact event days were set up in C&C warehouses such as Booker, to engage buyers of independent convenience retailers and takeaways. Rather than a full experiential event area, the focus was re-aligned to communicate the growth of low and no sugar soft drinks. Also, and perhaps most importantly for small business owners, the messaging communicated the profitability of stocking the brand over the other options available. The sampling at wholesalers created the opportunity for sales deal messaging; and a strong trade incentive stimulated wide spread bulk purchases, helping the brand to acquire hundreds of new listings across new, independent stockists.


With the consumer sales being maximised across all existing chains of stockists, the growth plan set out to acquire new large scale retail chains. This was achieved with the creation and activation of trade show event stands across a range of exhibitions. Events such as Convenience Retail Show, IFE, Lunch, Food Matters Live amongst others were short listed for the trade buyer roadshow. To aid measurable impact from each event, a data capture incentive and strong show deal were promoted; helping the brand to achieve new national listings in stockists such as The Co-op.

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