Intelligent Product Sampling

How to run a successful sampling campaign from ideation to execution.

Product sampling campaigns are almost deceptively simple. The aim is to get free promotional products into the hands of your target audience and let your products do the talking. Everyone appreciates free stuff, but to generate a real return on investment a more intelligent approach to sampling is necessary. Intelligent product sampling not only showcases your product, but it elevates brands, challenges consumer perceptions, and gets people talking.

How do you make product sampling campaigns more effective?

Unfortunately, many product sampling campaigns fail to make an impact and prove any kind of return on investment. Often, poor performing sampling campaigns:

  • Lack an appreciation for context. The creative behind sampling campaigns and your product are equally important. Showcasing products in the best, most relevant light is critical to making your sampling campaign memorable and impactful.
  • Lack of brand integration. The way you deliver a sampling experience primes potential customers for whatever comes next. It’s important to use strong creative concepts to frame your brand and product in an exciting way – this also helps attract people to your activity.
  • Lack of brand integration. Product sampling is a perfect addition to an integrated marketing campaign, but many brands fail to intelligently integrate it. Ensure your sampling echoes your brands values, campaign messaging to maximise impact on consumers.
  • Lack of efficiency. Whilst creativity is undoubtedly important, it shouldn’t restrict your reach. Big, complicated concepts do not always translate into better returns.

What is intelligent product sampling?

It's our 'smarter' approach to sampling campaigns

Intelligent product sampling is an approach to sampling where you do everything in your power to ensure the product experience moment is as impactful as possible.

This means thinking strategically about when and where you deliver the sample – even if necessary creating scenarios where the sample will be consumed later on, without the brand even being present.

It also means thinking carefully about the people you get to represent you – choosing brand ambassadors with the personality and passion to immediately click with your audience, so they’ll be as open as possible to your idea.

It means bringing compelling but agile creative thinking to your product sampling – doing something that will pique people’s interest and draw them over, increasing your reach and the power of what you’re presenting.

And it means thinking about the big picture of your impact – how can you make waves beyond that initial sampling moment, and, of course, how can you measure it.

For too long product sampling has been seen by many brands as a bolt-on activity, or worse something they do in a reactive way when they have the budget or stock.  Intelligent product sampling rejects that view, treating it as carefully as any other part of an integrated marketing plan.

Product Sampling News & Insights

3 great product sampling resources for brand managers

Getting the right reaction from product sampling

In this article creative director Adam Curry discusses the importance of creative in the best product sampling campaigns, and how it can be the difference between enthusiasm and understanding, or ambivalence and confusion.

Entice reactions

How experiential marketers can raise the bar in 2018

Read the views of Sarah Priestman of Sense NYC, who outlines three uncommon viewpoints in experiential marketing and product sampling that will help the discipline continue its momentum throughout the year.

Read how

The human experience: why brand ambassadors count in sampling campaigns

Yasmin Bartlett takes a closer look at the role brand ambassadors play in product sampling best practice – covering recruitment, training, and the importance of collecting feedback and having a good relationship with your staff.

See why

Effective product sampling campaigns

Some of our favourite case studies

Twinings Fruit Infusions and Green Tea: Office Teatime Sampling

The Results

1,800 office visits

600,000 packets shared

31% went onto purchase

The challenge

To change the perception of a mass audience that Twinings Fruit Infusions and Green Teas are dull and remedial products, to instead be seen as tasty, simple ways to enhance everyday wellbeing.

Maximising effectiveness

To reach our target audience, we researched and targeted offices with a high proportion of 25 – 39-year-old females. We wanted to reach office workers at a natural consumption moment, during a period when they would normally be looking to use the product, to encourage repeat usage in the future.

The execution

We distributed 600,000 Twinings packs and coupons in offices with a high proportion of female professionals, including media, marketing and PR agencies, education institutions and healthcare companies. We selected cheerful staff members to create a great atmosphere in the offices and supplied them with bright displays and collateral to help bust the belief that our products were dull and remedial.

Innocent Coconut Water

The Results

51 events visited around the UK

377,685 samples shared

15 week nationwide tour

The challenge

To encourage the next generation of drinkers to rediscover the Innocent brand whilst showcasing the benefits of drinking coconut water at natural hydration moments.

Maximising effectiveness

We tapped into a growing trend of encouraging a simpler way of life by showing young people a more natural way to rehydrate. We wanted to build an intuitive sampling experience by creating the right context for our activities. For our target audience, we knew hydration was required after exercise, with a hangover or during travel. Our sampling used an overlaying of creativity to reach our audience during these moments.

The execution

We built the Innocent Coconut Water Gym, a natural recovery area to relax and rehydrate at wild sporting events such as Total Warrior, Pretty Muddy and Wolf Run. Participants received an ice-cold coconut water at the finishing line and could use our post work-out stretch area and chill out zone. We also targeted young people exercising in parks and leaving inner city gyms, as well as commuters during rush hour outside stations. In total, we hydrated over 370,000 people in the perfect environment for sampling over the course of 51 live days.

Effective Product Sampling: An FAQ

The answers you need to prepare a successful sampling campaign

Should you treat product sampling as a standalone experiential marketing campaign?

Sampling can exist happily as a standalone, reactive experiential campaign. The most effective campaigns deploy assets from other media, and strengthen the core messages of a brand.

What size budget should I allocate to a product sampling campaign?

The product, audience and consumption occasion will determine the campaign structure and ultimately the investment and cost per sample.

A tactical activity for example that requires limited engagement and explanation of the product, relies on minimal sampling ‘kit’ and can be distributed at high volume in quick succession, would result in a lower cost per sample (CPS) than an activity that sits higher on the engagement and interaction scale.

Where should you position your sampling campaigns?

Each campaign is unique and multiple factors will affect the shape of the activity. We use proprietary location and demographic tools to research the best locations for the brand and product. The optimal position isn’t always the place with the most footfall.

Should sampling campaigns drive people online?

Product sampling is a unique way to engage face to face with potential customers and sharing this experience with others goes hand in hand. In addition to organic shares across social channels by recipients, social mechanics can be added to a campaign structure to encourage further reach.

Can Sense’s brand ambassadors work with your team?

Sense has a dedicated business unit, Real People, responsible for providing skill and value matched brand ambassadors to execute product sampling campaigns. They are experienced in reacting to consumer needs, location logistics and sampling volume demands. We actively encourage client brand teams to ‘go back to the floor’ and participate in sampling campaigns to get close to their customers.

Don't let all those samples go to waste.

Get intelligent about sampling. Talk to Sense. Get in Touch