CPGmatters: Marketers Gain Efficiency with Online Sampling
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current
article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
marketers want efficient promotions, while consumers welcome free stuff. The
two may have common ground in the relatively new world of online sampling.
this promotion, bargain-hunting consumers request samples from websites
that may be sponsored by manufacturers, retailers or companies providing
the online program and fulfillment. What is lost in immediacy is gained from
the efficiency of people getting the products they ask for, not what they
chance upon in the store.
the major manufacturers that have dabbled in this promotion are: Johnson & Johnson,
Kimberly Clark, Con Agra, Hallmark and Nestle. Retailers include: Wal-Mart,
Kroger (all banners), Costco, Sam’s, Walgreens, CVS, Supervalu, Schnucks and
partners and other experts agree that online sampling will never supplant its
in-store cousin. There are certain products – perishables, notably – that will
never lend themselves to ordering online on a broad scale.
the other hand, certain products – many in the health and beauty care categories
– work very well with online requests for samples. For example, Prilosec OTC
will go into the hands – and stomachs – of those who really need the product,
and the explanatory information will be delivered by links to comprehensive
data sources, rather than a flier handed out in-store.
hygiene products are frequently among the online sample offers, as are incontinence
products. Baby formula, and other baby services, is another highly targeted
product area that can be delivered best to families with new babies either
online, and then direct to the home, or in a healthcare setting.
in the online world, sampling offers can be better tailored to the specific
needs of the vendors and their consumers. For example, the StartSampling.com
website offers a free subscription to Remedy Life Magazine, diabetic product
needs and offers, and a free back-to-school planning calendar with $20 of coupon
savings from Nestle.
sampling is not quite a revolution, “but it is certainly another arrow in the
quiver for manufacturers," said James Tenser, principal, VSN Strategies, Tucson,
Ariz. “If it lets them start relationships with consumers, this is another
entry point for consumer marketing."
a trade-off of immediacy of product for immediacy of in-depth information,
according to Mr. Tenser. “Clearly it is not going to be a virtual equivalent
of the lady in the hairnet with the little microwave standing in the aisles
of the supermarket giving out samples. It’s not the stuff, but the information
about the stuff that matters the most," he said.
see this as coexisting rather nicely with in-store sampling, but it is going
to serve a different function, and maybe for different products," he added.
Questions: What do you think of the benefits as well as the limits of online
sampling? How does it compare to and complement in-store sampling?