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Topics About Helping Business Owners: 4 Advantages of In-Store Sampling

by Guest Author 14 March 2019 13:44

In-store sampling, which is where you give customers a free sample of a product while they're in the store, is an old marketing stand-by. The old strategy of, "don't worry, the first one's on us," has been with us so long that no one's really questioned it. However, in a world where every marketing decision needs to be backed up by numbers, lots of companies are asking if this is a strategy that should still be embraced and endorsed.

If you've been thinking about setting your in-store sampling to the side in favor of other marketing efforts, though, you might want to reconsider that plan. Because this particular strategy offers you distinct advantages that are tough to get any other way.

Advantage #1: The Personal Touch

With so much of marketing taking place online, or across the gulfs of space branched only by advertisements, there is something to be said for the human element that comes with in-store sampling. Your potential customers get a smile and an invitation along with their sample of the new product, and it gives them a chance to ask questions about it. If the sample is the bait, then the salesperson is the fisherman who sets the hook, and gets the customer into the boat (which in the case of this metaphor is going and buying the product they just sampled).

Advantage #2: The Product Is Right There

If you go through all the time and effort to get someone's attention, the last thing you want to do is put obstacles between where they are, and where they have to be to make a purchase. For example, you could mail your free samples to potential clients, and let them try your product right in their home. While they might still have the same, positive reaction, they're a lot less likely to put on their shoes, get in their car, and go down to the local store to immediately buy more of that product. As Chief Marketer points out, in-store sampling puts no more than a few aisles (at most) between people trying out your product, and a whole shelf of it they could buy.

Advantage #3: The Customer Is Already Shopping

Have you ever tried to sell something to someone when they were in the middle of a non-shopping activity? It isn't easy. If someone is already in a retail store, though, then chances are good they're already in a shopping frame of mind. They might have a list in hand, or they might just be browsing, but they came there with the intention of shopping. Since they're already looking to buy things, an in-store sample can direct some of that energy toward your product, according to Trybe Research.

Advantage #4: A Good Experience Buys Goodwill

It can feel like throwing money away, providing free samples to people who aren't guaranteed to go and make a purchase. However, even if someone doesn't buy your product that day, you are buying something very valuable from them; their goodwill.

If someone has a positive experience, and enjoys your free sample, that is something that will stick with them. They're more likely to tell their friends about it, and to remember your brand name and product when they see it at a later date. That customer engagement might be the difference between making a future sale, and having someone buy a competitor's product, as Store Support reminds us.

But Does In-Store Sampling Work?

Despite the clear advantages that come with in-store sampling as a marketing technique, there haven't been a lot of studies showing its long-term effects. However, Win Sight Grocery Business has been checking some numbers. While there is still plenty of additional research that can be done, these particular findings bode well for businesses who have made sampling and product demonstrations a part of their marketing outreach.

According to the RISE (Report on In-Store Sampling Effectiveness) this organization put together, in-store sampling drives both trial uses of products, as well as sales. The cumulative trial for sampled products increased by 58 percent over 20 weeks, for example. Not only that, but items that were tracked showed an average increase of 475 percent of sales compared to when there was not an in-store sample to go along with them.

In addition to selling the products being sampled, though, researchers also found a cascade effect. Older products by the same company also saw increased sales and attention as a result of in-store sampling. Additionally, repeat sales seemed to benefit from positive sampling.

So, in short, in-store sampling does work. Not only that, but it provides distinct advantages that other strategies simply do not.

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