Give Some, Get Some: The Power Of Sampling

My father is a food broker and represents a new product called Bagel O’s. As brunch items, Bagel O’s are bite-sized, premium, kosher bagels filled with cream cheese. But if you were doing your weekly shopping and saw Bagel-O’s in the freezer section would you buy them? Maybe. Or, maybe not.

In a world where budgets are tight, people want proof before purchasing a new product – especially a new one that promises improvements on an old favorite, like Bagel O’s. Each time you purchase something new you risk hating it and therefore wasting your hard-earned money. Advertising helps and coupons are great, but they aren’t always enough to convince consumers. Sampling, on the other hand, takes the risk out of the equation. Like me, consumers will essentially try anything if it’s free!

But does sampling lead to sales? Is sampling a viable promotion tactic? Research and practical success stories say yes. A study by the Product Sampling Council of the Promotion Marketing Association found nine out of 10 consumers say they would purchase a good or service if they experienced it and were satisfied. And, for Bagel O’s, purchases have tripled during weeks with a four-hour sample campaign and increased sales have continued thereafter. This success isn’t exclusive to Bagel O’s, either. According to the “Report on In-store Sampling Effectiveness,” sampling programs drove a 475 percent sales lift the day of the event, and consumers who sampled an item were 11 percent more likely to purchase it again and six percent more likely to buy another item from the brand franchise.

This kind of sales and brand lift might be just what the doctor ordered as we head toward the holidays. A recent Wall Street Journal article on back-to-school sales indicates consumer confidence is low and individuals remain highly focused on necessities. As the holiday season nears, and consumers dig deep to give their families that little something extra, consider investing in sampling or experiential promotions to make consumers aware of new or re-launched products. Sometimes you really do have to give a little to get a lot.

-- Jillian Wilson Martin, Senior Account Executive


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