Why product sampling is a year-round winner

Chris La Greca - New Business Manager, Ovato

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and consumers Australia wide are gearing up for a time of gift giving and receiving. That makes Christmas the perfect moment to engage in direct marketing to surprise and delight customers with bonus gifts or treats. Enter: letterbox sampling.

Sampling is the activity of offering a small sample size of your new or existing products to gain exposure, recognition or market share for your product. And while it’s well suited for Christmas, this isn’t the only time of year that you can surprise customers with product sampling that will improve awareness and drive sales. Product sampling can be an essential tool for connecting with your audience, 365 days of the year.

Building a relevant connection

Marketing is experiential and emotional. Audiences place more value in memories and moments than in products and the days of faceless enterprises demanding loyalty with no return are long gone. Brands need to be appealing, relatable and understanding.

When 85 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop with a business that has professionally printed materials, including signs, flyers or banners, the power of print to bridge that gap shouldn’t be underestimated.

Alongside a desire to build an emotional connection, audiences are also becoming more discerning. Younger generations value brand authenticity, and there’s a rising concern about the pervasiveness and irrelevance of marketing. It’s therefore important for businesses to differentiate themselves but to also become more direct in their marketing efforts. Relevant product sampling powered by key data sets can create the kind of value that modern audiences are looking for.

Using the right data

Sampling is hard to get right. A packet of cereal handed out at a train station might give a product high visibility for a day, but measuring the ROI is difficult. By using specific data, the sampling method used can be tailored to any audience and their interests.

Data gathered from demographic and transactional sources reveals distinct trends in buying patterns, interests and behaviours that characterise your target audience. For example, a brand selling a cleaning product can use household purchase data to create parameters including:

• Customers who have never bought a cleaning spray

• Customers who haven’t bought any cleaning spray in the last 2 months

• Customers who regularly buy a competitor spray

• Customers living within a selected radius, close to a supermarket selling the product

These parameters, defined by up-to-date, location-based data, can help this business identify the best location for letterbox sampling, tied to a sale offer or promotion.

Your business can find the right market and send out customised letterbox product samples that directly correlate with audience behaviour. This eliminates wasted spend on shoppers who would never have been interested in your products in the first place or are unlikely to switch from their current trusted brand.

Why sampling works

It’s essential that your business stands out in the crowd and makes a great first impression. You should consider distributing free samples with unique packaging or atypical sizing (smaller or larger than the standard product) to resonate with customers.

There are other reasons why product sampling works. There’s an emotional reaction to getting something for free. Customers feel great because they’re receiving something that they weren’t expecting, even if it’s something they might not go out of their way to purchase normally. And they’re getting to experience your product without investing in it.

By targeting relevant, carefully considered markets, you’ll increase overall ROI and encourage an audience of loyal consumers who love your products.

All year long

Print continues to evolve. And powered by new data capabilities, it’s become smarter, measurable, more authentic, and more personal.

It’s essential that your business keeps front of mind with consumers and product sampling is a great tool to engage them. Exposing undecided customers to a free trial of your product can be all that it takes to turn them into a dedicated fan.

To find out how you can get started, contact me on 0439 472 4767.