The pandemic has driven more people away from public spaces such as schools, offices, grocery stores, shopping malls and kept them restricted to their homes. But despite staying home, they are still spending a lot of money on food and their pets.
Although people are not engaging in in-person shopping, they are indulging in online shopping many times over. That is the reason why it is an excellent time for brands to sync up with their audience through at-home product sampling.
Big brands are notorious for tapping into the power of the free sample to establish brand awareness and make people interested in their products.
However, given the current scenario, studies suggest that people are more likely to purchase a product after receiving a free sample. This is called Dry Sampling. But for the purpose of understanding, let us explore the nuances of product sampling in a detailed manner.
While offering product samples, two methods can be considered in the store or outside the store. One is the indirect sampling route, and the other is the direct sampling route. Let us dig into each of them in more detail so you can figure out which one works the best for you.
What do you mean by Indirect Sampling?
Indirect sampling refers to any approach which does not involve any physical interaction between yourself and the customers. For instance, you could offer free product samples to buyers while they are in the process of buying another product from your brand. You could ensure that the store staff member hands over the free sample at checkout, or it could be a product bundle on the shelf. For instance, if you sell washing powder, you could experiment with attaching a sachet of liquid detergent for buyers to test your product.
You may question why this in-store method is worth implementing. Well, the primary advantage is that it adds value to the original purchase, and it is effortless. If you offer your customers more by pairing two products that you think will go well together, the effort is well worth it. For instance, offering a complimentary sauce with a particular food item allows the buyer to try out the sauce when they cook it.
Also, since the buyers would naturally take the items home, a broader group of people would engage with your product. Everyone at home can try out the free sauce being offered. But there is a drawback to this form of sampling. The disadvantage can cause you not to attempt this method at all – there is no way to find out if the customer is using the product and what they think of it after using it. Besides, there is no scope for instant feedback. There is no way to determine if they have used the product appropriately and whether or not the outcomes were as you expected.
To counter that, there is always a way to include contact information and request them to provide you with feedback. Regardless of whether they had a good experience or a bad one, there is no guarantee that you would hear from them.
Who Should Invest In Product Sampling?
A vast majority of brands can benefit from product sampling. It is because a free product in exchange for extra sales in the future is an enticing prospect. But who would want to invest in this, and what approach should be adopted?
For instance, a wet sampling route could be considered if you are an established lifestyle brand in a niche market. It is because you know your clients are a small group who have purchased from your brand in the past. They can be explicitly targeted. However, if the target market is broader, dry sampling is a better choice. As for who should not invest in product sampling depends on the product instead of the brand.
For instance, if you are a garden store or a plant nursery, there is no market to determine whether people need a hosepipe or not. But if you offer free seeds and bulbs or bundle them with any other purchases, it is a deal maker for a customer who has spent a certain amount of money in your store. But that apart, the best way you can determine if your product deserves to be sampled is to ask yourself if it engages your senses. It may not appeal to all the senses but can appeal, at least, to one of them.
If you are a bakery owner, you could offer, for instance, cake mix or baking powder as a sample as it engages the olfactory senses. You could opt for the dry or wet sampling route if you sell coffee since it engages both taste and smell.
Letting Your Product Do All The Work Via Direct Sampling
Indirect product sampling is specifically remote selling, where you let your product do all the work. On the other hand, direct sampling is the exact opposite of indirect sampling. What’s more? The direct sampling method can be broken down into two categories: Dry & Wet Sampling.
Both dry and wet sampling has the same goal – that is – to allow the customers to test the product.
Allowing Your Customers To Explore Through Dry Sampling
Very similar to indirect sampling, this is an approach where you offer your customers sampling products for them to be tested at home. This approach would include using a promotional stand and ensuring that the salesperson explains how the product needs to be used for every buyer. This implies that you are not cutting yourself off or are detached from the process entirely. There is some form of personal interaction.
For instance, you could demonstrate a sample product in-store, demonstrating as much as possible about it. Then you can offer samples for buyers to be taken home.
You may not necessarily like this method, but then you can consider wet sampling. It is one of the most popular forms of the direct sampling method. As per this method, you offer products to consumers in the store. It is, therefore, more appropriate for you if you have a tasting sample.
While the two ways of sampling are slightly different, there is always an opportunity to combine both. For instance, you can let buyers taste a product and offer them small samples to be tried at home.
There are a few benefits as well. The main advantage of dry sampling is that you can keep expenses low while you engage with an already interested buyer. By offering in-store product samples, it is easier to increase the awareness of your brand than following an indirect sampling tactic.
The Dry Sampling approach offers the customer a product they can test at home. But this has to be done with the help of a stall. Besides, it must be ensured that there is a salesperson to explain how to use the product. This provides a physical interaction with the consumer. For instance, a salesperson can explain a freebie or a giveaway in the store and then offer the consumer to take it home. There are two types of Dry Sampling –
Event-Based Dry Sampling
This approach involves giving away freebies through a particular event. An event-based sampling campaign depends upon the relevance of the event. But it is not always possible to deal with the crash event. Success is guaranteed if you can deal with it and offer free samples of a product that people are interested in. But the cost of implementing this strategy is high as it involves event sponsorship and free sample values.
Supermarket Dry Sampling
In this kind of sampling, the more the people reach out to the product, the better your chances are of achieving sales and growing your business. The overall cost incurred is low.
Aiming For Your Target Market Via Wet Sampling
As for wet sampling, you could directly aim at your target market. For instance, you could set up an in-store promotional stand in the coffee aisle inside a mart while selling coffee. If you plan to target a high-end store, launch a new product in-store, and then invite select customers you know, both regular spenders and captivated by your specific product.
But as mentioned earlier, there are disadvantages of a direct sampling method as well. Firstly, it is an expensive way of promoting a product that requires a lot of initial capital. You would have to consider the additional costs of advertising banners, promotional stands, etc. If you partner with a product sampling company, you would also need to factor in labor costs. If you attempt dry sampling, buyers might throw away the sample as soon as they get home or might simply lose it. Very similar to indirect sampling, there is no guarantee of direct feedback.
5 Ways To Product Sample Effectively Via Dry Sampling
Enticing Purchases Of Full-Size Products
The end goal of most brands running dry sampling campaigns is to entice full-size product purchases. However, you just cannot send out samples and expect customers to make a purchase. They need to be nurtured before making this commitment. Charging for samples seems odd. But this strategy implies that customers are testing products they are emotionally and financially invested in.
For Customer Reviews
Reviews are the virtual extension of word of mouth. They enable consumers to refer to various sources before committing to a purchase. Around 72% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy.
So, if your product has no reviews while a competitor has hundreds, the consumers choose the latter. This makes it challenging to entice new customers, who are wary of untested products. Efforts can be made towards eliciting reviews from those who are buying full-size products. But a widespread product sampling campaign is effective in boosting customer reviews quickly for core products. You can maximize this effort by offering customers a discount in exchange for a review.
For User-Generated Content
User-generated content finds a home on social media. This is because people trust what fellow customers recommend or don’t, far more than the brand itself. User-generated content is different from traditional influencer marketing. The best content comes from regular people passionately obsessed with your brand who want to share their experience with their followers. To inspire better user-generated content, you need to offer your customers something to make a noise about. An ongoing sampling campaign ensures that your fans always have something fresh to talk about with your targeted community.
Encouraging Product Trials
Soft launches of new products are an interesting way to assess customer reception and test how effective your marketing strategy is. Product sampling campaigns are more appropriate for expensive luxury products, as customers are unlikely to buy without trying them first. This is why sampling is widespread within the Consumer Packaged Goods segment.
As A Loyalty Benefit
Loyalty programs are excellent for fostering brand loyalty and facilitate repeat purchasing behaviors. But this holds only if the benefits are lucrative enough. As per Yotpo, 29% of consumers wish loyalty rewards were more exciting and diverse than discounts. There is a growing preference for experiential rather than just transaction-based perks.
The Final Word
The psychology behind dry sampling is simple — people love freebies and love to try products before actually investing in them. Not only does handing out giveaways lead to brand trust, but it results in people developing a positive view of your brand.