Try Before You Buy: The Benefits of In-store Sampling


breakfast on tap in-store sampling

We’ve all seen them, tried them, and loved them (well, some of them). Sampling in the food & drink sector is so widespread that sometimes it’s disappointing to go to the supermarket and not see a sampling stand down one of the more popular aisles – particularly confectionery. Sampling of course isn’t unique to supermarkets, either – increasingly other public spaces such as shopping malls, station concourses and even busy streets are being used by experiential marketers looking to further their brand reach. This article, however, looks specifically at in-store sampling and some of the many benefits brands can reap by incorporating this into their promotional plans.

Certainly, some products do lend themselves more explicitly to sampling than others. If for your product is a cooking ingredient, or a component of a larger meal, sampling is difficult and may not always be for you. There are also different ways in which sampling can be done, ranging from giving away whole products – a technique favoured by larger brands – or giving away smaller sample portions of products for consumers to try there and then, a technique used far more frequently in in-store sampling.

Brand & Product Exposure

This is perhaps the most immediate benefit product sampling has in the food & drink sector, and the most obvious. Executed well, sampling has the ability to capture both consumers within the brand’s immediate target audience and beyond, who otherwise may not be exposed to the product or may not have been reached by current food and drink marketing. Done correctly, sampling then signposts interested consumers to where the product can be purchased and maximises the trial-to-purchase conversion rate. This is especially important for new products with few comparable SKUs, and products in emerging categories.

Builds Customer Loyalty

In-store sampling also helps build customer loyalty and reinforce positive brand associations in the minds of consumers who may already be aware of the brand, or existing shoppers. Allowing consumers to keep trying the product, particularly if they are already fans, reaffirms their positive feelings towards the product and more than likely spurs repeat purchase. Sampling in this way is also more likely to draw both new and existing consumers towards the specific brand and away from the competition, helping to sustain or increase market share.

Consumer Feedback

Brands can also view in-store sampling as a way of garnering all-important consumer feedback, feedback which can often be tricky to get hold of without conducting expensive and time-consuming food and drink market research. Consumers can give honest feedback at the exact point of trial, which is incredibly valuable to marketers from both a product formulation and a marketing/targeting perspective.

The Considerations

Certainly, some products do lend themselves more explicitly to sampling than others. If for example your product is a cooking ingredient, or a component of a larger meal, sampling is difficult and may not always be for you. Cost can also be a factor to consider, as the cost-per-impression of in-store sampling can be high, particularly when compared to the actual reach of the sampling campaign – which is another reason for which sampling can often be overlooked: some marketers simply feel it does not reach enough consumers.

Nonetheless, at HRA Global we are definite advocates of in-store sampling, having seen many clients run in-store sampling campaigns with fantastic results. Also, particularly for small brands, there are certainly ways to keep the costs down when partnering with retailers.

Are you looking for support with either in-store sampling or your wider promotional campaign? Contact Roseanna at [email protected] or by calling 01803 203387.

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