Marketers Discover Sampling
Sampling works. It’s a known fact that giving consumers the opportunity to test a product (food, cars, fragrances, consumer electronics, musical instruments) increases the likelihood they will buy.
That’s why it’s a mystery in food retailing, for example, that companies such as Costco, Trader Joe’s and Wegmans sample products continually while the vast majority of grocers either dabble or steer clear of the practice altogether.
Recently, as an article on AdAge.com pointed out, marketers are rediscovering sampling and seeking to turn them into events to launch new products.
McDonald’s, for example, is rolling out a new Southern Style Chicken Biscuit and a Southern Style Chicken Sandwich and plans to give a free sample of the items (depending on day-part) to any consumer who purchases a beverage at one of its fast food restaurants on May 15. The chain has started running spots on television to alert consumers to the offer of its free chicken items. It expects to give away up to 8 million sandwiches over the course of the day.
Marta Fearon, director-U.S. marketing at McDonald’s, told AdAge.com that the company saw the impact of sampling when it gave away chicken strips during the initial roll-out five years ago. Sales for the product were well above the chain’s expectations. More recently, McDonald’s sampled its McSkillet burrito in February and saw same-store sales increase eight percent.
Others including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Honest Tea have also jumped on the sampling bandwagon.
Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, is a true believer.
“How many messages are people hit with every day? It’s the quality of impressions [that are important], if you were to look at conversions to consumers. I would trade 100 media impressions for one person-to-person, cup-to-mouth sampling impression,” he told AdAge.com.
Discussion Questions: Where do you see sampling heading? Do you have suggestions on what types of sampling work best? Will more companies, for example, try to make mass media events out of the introduction/sampling of new products?