Product sampling delivers better sales than in-store display campaigns
In the never ending fight for product sales and market share brands that rely on packaging and in- store display advertising are missing out. Research conducted by S.R. Chandulka et al and published in the Journal of Retailing strongly suggest that brand management teams need to take another look at product sampling. Results from the research demonstrate that product sampling is highly effective at driving both immediate and long term sustained sales for brands.
Given the highly competitive nature of the FMCG sector the need to differentiate one product from another is at an all time premium. Clearly product packaging has a key role to play in delivering this objective. However, given the hectic nature of the average supermarket category it is no longer reasonable to expect packaging design to deliver this in isolation.
Supporting products with in-store advertising is another option for brands looking to capture shopper attention. Retailers offer a myriad of options and opportunities in this area. Sadly these options are far from inexpensive and come with a multitude of restrictions regarding content and location. The reality for many of these advertising opportunities is that they run the risk of blending in to the visual white noise of the retail environment.
It therefore seems unusual that brand managers, who are constantly looking for any form of competitive advantage, have continued to overlook product sampling as a viable route to success. Despite the imperial evidence, as referenced above, the advantage of getting a product sample into the hands of a consumer are intuitively obvious.
But for those who are unfamiliar let’s explore the benefits in a little more detail
Product sampling does the one thing other marketing activities can’t, it moves shoppers straight to the trial stage on the journey to purchase. It enables brands to provide consumers with a personal experience, product benefits and pricing information right at the point of purchase.
Product sampling at the entrance to major supermarket multiples engages all shoppers as they enter the store. This increases the reach of the brand by not relying on shoppers to visit the isle or category in which the product is displayed.
Our sampling teams build trust through friendly, warm and personal contact that engages consumers with factual and emotive brand storytelling. Other forms of advertising, in or close to store, simply lack the ability to engage on a human level and create emotional and rational connections.
Providing shoppers with a direct product experience enables the consumer to use all five senses to determine the suitability of the product on offer. Compare that to on-pack or in-store communications which are wholly reliant on one, sight, to get their message across.
When consumers learn about a product through experience it is a self-generated insight which is far more powerful and memorable for the individual. Contrast that against being reliant upon messaging from packaging, shelf talkers or point of sale to stand out and cut through.
These self-generated opinions can also reduce uncertainty about a product helping to support its price and positioning within a category. Alternatively brands can continue with their constant price promotions which simply erode profits and consumer confidence in the full R.R.P.
Grow Your Category
Product sampling produces a category expansion effect. As footfall increases within the category so do purchases of other brands. Which we have seen from our own work with Rustlers (Link). This should be of particular interest to brands that have multiple products in the same category or those looking to strengthen their relationship with category buyers.
Put simply product sampling grows brand awareness, shopper engagement, product trial and ultimately sales. Despite these facts brands seem reluctant to incorporate product sampling into their marketing and communication plans. At Link Communication our experience has shown us that this is often driven by a lack of understanding and appreciation. Brands and their agencies simply lack a detailed understanding of what activity is possible at which locations.
Product sampling is often perceived as “Mable with a table” and yet the reality could not be further from the truth. A plethora of creative options are available for brands who wish to capture consumer attention and influence their purchasing decisions. Selecting retail sites on a local, regional or national basis also enables campaigns to be scaled on a truly cost-effective basis.