5 Reasons why Digital Product Sampling is the future
(and 2 why not)

Product sampling is an essential part of the buyer process. Purchase decisions are informed and influenced by how much of a sensory experience can be provided before a decision is made. Studies show that 11% of consumers are significantly influenced to purchase by sampling activities. With the acceleration of e-commerce, solutions towards having this ‘experiential moment’ for a consumer is being forced to undergo changes. Couple that with what we hope is a ‘once in a lifetime’ global pandemic, how sampling is perceived has significantly changed in the eyes of the consumer.

The core problem with traditional product sampling (giving product samples in the hands of consumers) is it isn’t completely data driven. Although it is direct-to-consumer marketing at scale, the results do not provide a clear breadcrumb route back to the very consumer. All the ‘sausage on a toothpick’ samples handed out in a supermarket may have led to increased sales in the marketing results (which will take time to view), but who knows whether a few children gobbled down half the samples in a particular supermarket while shopping with their parents? This brings the case for digitizing sampling activities.

Digital product sampling comes down to establishing a digital connection with the consumer and driving them to a physical or e-store with a digital coupon, voucher or refund mechanic to claim a free product.

Here are 5 reasons why digital sampling has a bright future:

Reason 1: Digital Product Sampling is Omnichannel

Digital product sampling doesn’t choose a place and wait for consumers to come where they are. The power of this method is that it allows all touchpoints (ATL, BTL, in-store, on-pack) to become points of direct contact with a consumer. Brands can meet target audiences where they are and when the audience is ready for them. Start a ‘direct conversation’ or ‘journey’ with future consumers on any marketing touchpoint or sales channel. 

Reason 2: Digital Product Sampling has a direct link to Sales Impact

Digital product sampling works on a model that is generally inverted from traditional sampling. It doesn’t take the product to the consumer. It takes the consumer to the product. Providing a well-placed sales trigger such as a digital coupon or cashback on a purchase gives the brand visibility on which (communication) channel had true sales impact. 

Reason 3: Digital Product Sampling gives more messaging control to the brand

Most of the time with traditional sampling, there is a heavy reliance on the brand ambassador or sales team as they are the last mile towards the consumer. With digital product sampling methods the brand gets to decide who they want to reach exactly, how they interact and which key message is passed on to the consumer. Digital product sampling allows the brand to deliver its message without interference or any case of ‘broken telephone’. Moreover, with digital product sampling, a brand can limit the number of samples per person, per touchpoint, the total number of samples etc.

Reason 4: Digital Product Sampling Cuts out the Waste

Most of the time with traditional sampling, there is a heavy reliance on the brand ambassador or sales team as they are the last mile towards the consumer. With digital product sampling methods the brand gets to decide who they want to reach exactly, how they interact and which key message is passed on to the consumer. Digital product sampling allows the brand to deliver its message without interference or any case of ‘broken telephone’. Moreover, with digital product sampling, a brand can limit the number of samples per person, per touchpoint, the total number of samples etc.

Reason 5: Digital Product Sampling delivers Clean 1st Party Data

Digital sampling allows the brand to have a fully connected journey from touchpoint to POS. This is something that is not generally possible with traditional methods. It is possible to see where a consumer came from, where they redeemed their sample, and whether it led to a direct purchase. At the end, if the consumer is provided with an ‘opt in’ opportunity, the brand is able to contact them beyond the sampling campaign for future engagements. With capable marketing technology tools, it is possible to see this all happening in real- time at scale. 

However, traditional product sampling has some advantages over digital product sampling. 

Here are two reasons why traditional sampling is still a keeper:

Reason 1: Traditional Product Sampling can guarantee the Perfect Serve

Traditional product sampling allows the brand to have heavy control on product presentation, to serve the product at the right time and in the best possible circumstances.  choosing the best times for product sampling and by training ambassadors. When it comes to food & drinks especially, brand ambassadors can guarantee a ‘perfect serve.’

Reason 2: Traditional Product Sampling can result in a Memorable Brand Experience

Traditional product sampling shines in this area. A product sampling activity can be turned into a memorable brand experience by using the right locations, well-branded materials, the right & well-trained brand ambassadors, by adding a layer of creativity and by adding a personal touch.

While there are shortcomings, it is still a strong belief that in the wider view at scale, digital product sampling is a strong option to consider adding to the marketing mix. An augmentation or even combination of traditional methods and digital methods can assure that brands have the best of both worlds. However, it is still evident that digital product sampling at scale can provide brands with deeper data that allows them to better engage with their consumers in the future and develop a deeper connection with them. It also helps brands acquire truly useful data that better equips them moving forward..

 

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