In the modern day, with the evolution of technology and growth of the digital spectrum, everything is accountable, transparent and reportable. The Internet has given brands a new way to build capital by providing a gateway for them to connect with, engage and sell to consumers. Marketing techniques have evolved and the word “digital” has become a vital component in strategy conversations and echoed throughout planning meetings. Yet still, one traditional and savvy method of introducing new products to the consumer market remains — product sampling.
For years, brands have relied on sampling programs, utilizing street teams and brand ambassadors, as a primary method of introducing new products. By taking the risk off the consumer and offering samples at no cost, it encourages them to try the new product and can potentially make them a buyer. It is no doubt this has been a popular tactic over the years as the average person enjoys free product, however is there a real benefit for the brand?
When you think about it, sampling programs can be a considerable investment for a brand of any size, so it is important they are extremely targeted and that there is a way to track purchase conversion. But as product freely transfers from the brand ambassador’s hand to the consumer’s, there is no way for the brand to know who that consumer is, what they actually think of the product or if they’ll become a buyer. In this regard, many current sampling programs can be considered one dimensional and lead to large amounts of wasted product.
So how do brands make the most of their sampling strategies and ensure ROI?
The key is in the explosion of the digital spectrum and access to data analytics. The Internet and social media have not only given brands a way to connect with and sell to consumers, but also learn about them and gather valuable intellectual capital that can help grow their business.
In recent years, product sampling has found a new home online and has changed the game for the retail industry. Being able to leverage valuable data including consumer demographic information, feedback on products and purchase conversion rates helps brands to better target their sampling programs, save money and actually measure ROI. And when sampling programs are better targeted, it increases the chances of consumers purchasing the products driving traffic to retailers both online and in-store. It’s a win/win/win for all parties – the consumer, the brand and the retailer.
A new generation of product sampling is upon us. Brands must adapt to the societal shifts the evolution of technology has fueled and engage with consumers where they are, online. Mobile technology allows people to have 24-hour access to the Internet, giving brands a constant line of communication to consumers. And beyond engagement, brands must take advantage of the capabilities the Internet provides and learn about their consumer to make their businesses better and smarter, and to remain competitive in the ever-changing retail industry.
Jeremy Reid is founder and chairman of PINCHme, a digital product sampling platform that allows members to sample products in exchange for their feedback, giving consumer brands the opportunity to increase sales by delivering mass awareness, targeted trial and valuable insights.
Reid has 14 years of experience in dealing directly with consumers. Prior to founding PINCHme, he was the founder and CEO of one of the largest alternative investment firms in Australia.