Trends in product sampling

These are challenging times for brands, and   this is not a short-term challenge which will blow over anytime soon. Brands and customers are adapting and looking for ways to interact with each other. Experiential marketing channels are on the rise and brands are left with the near impossible task of attempting sensory marketing through intangible, digital channels. It is not that consumers have stopped wanting to try new products, rather it is just that they want a safer experience. For brands, in-person product sampling has been a way of getting their goods in the hands of potential customers.  As discussed below, brands are using various methods to adapt to the changing needs of consumers.

1)  In-home sampling – Marie Claire has come up with an innovative solution for product sampling. It has launched a new sampling business called ‘Beauty Drawer’.Beauty Drawer works with brands and customers by offering customized user profiles based on skin types. This lets brands send products to customers who would actually use them. It also saves customers the trouble of receiving products that they don’t need. In this case, this type of in-house sampling enables customers to find out how different beauty products look on them in different types of lighting instead of the harsh fluorescent lights of stores that can differ from more natural lighting.

2)  Sampling with safety – It will be some time before samples can be used as freely as they were before the pandemic. But with vaccinations rolling out, some stores are feeling confident enough to revive the long standing tradition. Retailers are putting safety protocols in place to ease safety concerns. Walmart is serving pre-sealed food items, and Target has been allowing self-service sampling of individually wrapped items.

3) Creative sampling – Marketers are using unique design experiences that can delight customers right from their home. The brand Pipcorn was forced to innovate amid the pandemic. It collaborated with Sampler and Classtag and created the largest ‘Year-end Popcorn Party’ for students and teachers who have traded their classrooms for remote locations. The program allows teachers and parents of their students to receive a free bag of popcorn directly at home and celebrate the end of the school year amidst the new normal.

4) Contactless sampling – Connecting with people in their homes through various digital means has been an effective way of showcasing brands . By using live video content, many brands have provided customers with engaging experiences. Consumers can interact with brands in a number of ways, such as through  games, quizzes and cook-alongs. Ripple Street partnered with Anheuser-Busch to send $15 gift cards to people to purchase BabeWine. This initiative led to a boost in purchase intent and willingness to recommend the beverage to others.

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