Most companies tend to think that product sampling is just about getting your product into people’s hands. Give it to them and they will come and buy – wrong. Whilst sampling is a great way to get products out there, only handing out free samples will be unlikely to reach the consumers’ heart strings and change their perceptions about you or get them to switch from their other brand of choice. So what can we do? To start with, we need to make your product experience more engaging, and then follow through with ongoing communication.
Sampling is known to get four times longer response rate than any other media. However, the way your product reaches the consumer will undoubtedly influence how effective the sample is in converting into sales. Working in conjunction with other media or sponsorship, sampling campaigns can drive more awareness and appeal for your brand if tied up to emotional factors.
There’s no denying that consumers’ path to purchase has considerably changed. Behavioural psychologists acknowledge that more than 70% of consumer loyalty and spending decisions are based on emotional factors. Yet, according to the IPA report, The Long And The Short Of It, emotional campaigns are the most effective in terms of increasing penetration, sales and market share in the long term.
Building an emotional relationship with consumers takes time. It requires a great connection, constant engagement and memorable experiences. As highlighted in the Circles’ study ‘Turning Emotion into Engagement’, marketers that look beyond the transaction to focus on the softer side of the business relationship — the emotional connection between the brand and the customer — will gain a distinct competitive advantage.
Sampling campaigns that create emotional excitement are most likely to stop consumers in their tracks, make them care and share. The success of brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull is because of their focus on building an emotional profile for their brand. For example, Coca-Cola’s Happiness Machine brings an entertaining sampling experience to consumers focused on the element of surprise and a sense of happiness which creates an emotional connection to the brand. The brand created a series of vides showing people’s reactions to the activities which became an instant viral hit, reaching millions of views through social media sharing.
Another great example is Anthon Berg ‘Generous’ campaigns. The most recent sampling experience from the Danish chocolatier was undertaken at Copenhagen Airport rewarding passengers with chocolates and extra treats, depending on how bad their airline seat was.
For product sampling campaigns to transform from generic “transactional” models to interactive and personalised “emotional” ones, brands should adopt experiences that are engaging and compelling. The key to consumer engagement is the ongoing dialogue. It means reconnecting with consumers after the initial interaction and encouraging them to become passionate brand advocates. Here are our tips to help you do that:
- Be authentic: embrace what is true about your brand.
- Include people in your story: create a narrative around your sampling experience and let consumers become part of it.
- Make it easy to share: use social media to expand the dialogue.
- Focus on long term over short term: integrated and consistent sampling experiences and strong online platforms will keep your consumers engaged with your brand.