CPGmatters: Sampling Events Feature More Established Brands

Dec 20, 2010

By Al Heller

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary
of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

Consumers view in-store sampling as a savings strategy that could help eliminate
the risk of product trials and lessen food wastage at home. This represents
a sea change from the serendipity and novelty feel of sampling not long ago
— before The Great Recession made every dollar count for American households,
and also made consumer packaged goods companies seek more measurability and
accountability from such tactics.

"For shoppers, an inner dialogue of risk versus price means sampling
can effect change in their purchase behaviors. For CPG, the use of in-store
sampling has switched in our experience from 75 percent-80 percent new items
three or four years ago to slightly less than half of our business today," PromoWorks
chief executive officer Dan Steever told CPGmatters in an interview.

"A new item to a shopper is simply one that he or she hasn’t tried.
There’s a clear trend for CPG to sample established items today, partly
to help offset private label encroachment. CPG most effectively fights private
label on the basis of quality, and sampling induces trial at the point of purchase," he
added.  "Also, even branded items that people have bought over and
over again sometimes leave their plate, and shoppers need to be reminded of

For example, Campbell Soup Company recently used PromoWorks to run a large-scale
sample campaign that included: one established flavor of soup, a roast beef
sandwich, and recipe cards involving other soup flavors as part of meal solutions.
Mr. Steever said two key consumer insights drove this campaign:

  • Chief household shoppers want simple meal solutions. If sampling demonstrates
    that a delicious meal can be prepared and served in a grocery store, shoppers
    understand they can do it easily at home.
  • If the sampling experience moves shoppers to the soup shelf for an extra
    few seconds, they’ll pick up additional flavors. Sampling doesn’t
    affect only the sampled item; it provides measurable lift of the brand franchise.

"Successful sampling starts with insights, aligns with Shopper Marketing,
and ties to business strategies and broader event calendars established by
CPG companies and retailers," said Mr. Steever.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of the sampling opportunity for
already established brands? What are the overall pros and cons of sampling
as a marketing tool?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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8 Comments on "CPGmatters: Sampling Events Feature More Established Brands"

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Jonathan Marek
10 years 4 months ago

The issue with sampling is that it is expensive. That’s fine in certain very high-traffic environments — I’m picturing the sampling at Costco. But in a traditional supermarket environment, CPGs ought to be careful to measure the economics, especially for established brands where it might be harder to get new trial.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
10 years 4 months ago

The key to this or any promotional program is to establish and measure its goals. A variety of sampling outcomes range from immediate product purchase through heightened brand and category awareness to positive retailer differentiation. As the article notes there are advantages beyond immediate trial.

Often a consumer needs to be reminded of the attributes of a previously purchased brand. Despite the increased use of shopping lists during the recent recession, a significant number of purchase decisions are still made in-store. Sampling enhances the probability that the sampled brand or category will be purchased whether on the shopping list or not.

Mel Kleiman
10 years 4 months ago

All the research I have read says sampling increases impulse purchases and creates greater awareness. So why not use it on not only new but existing brands.

The law of reciprocity says if I give you something, no matter what the value, you need to give me something too, or do something nice for me. So why not give away a sample that cost ten cents to get a number of people to buy $3.00 worth of product?

Max Goldberg
10 years 4 months ago

Sampling is a great way for established brands to remind consumers about taste, value and quality. When combined with a meal solution or coupon, sampling can have an immediate impact on sales.

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
10 years 4 months ago

Sampling programs work–and retailers use them to their advantage. For CPG companies, it is a matter of cost and solid execution. With a good potential for collaboration between brand and retailer, it can be a good investment for CPG companies.

Joan Treistman
10 years 4 months ago

As with every marketing decision there is an opportunity to weigh the costs with the potential return. Given the number of stores in which sampling can be tested; it won’t be a high hurdle to set up a control and test situation.

I can see an opportunity to reacquaint people with products and brands. Importantly, consumers can experience new uses, recipes and benefits they may not be thinking about. Hence, existing brands can be reinvigorated and new brands have a chance to generate serious consideration for purchase.

Mary Lou Wiley
Mary Lou Wiley
10 years 4 months ago

Sampling is a significant investment, but it’s effective in driving trial, sales, and conversion. Especially when integrated with a comprehensive shopper marketing and/or merchandising program, leveraging synergy with media, display, TPRs, in-ads, etc.

Anthony J James
Anthony J James
9 years 7 months ago

Sampling is a great opportunity for already established brands! The fundamental issue in sampling is one of relevance — and focused consumer targeting. A model that allows real consumers and a REAL need is what established brands really need.

It’s also a matter of RELEVANCE — the right consumer at the right time.

Established brands can gain TRUE insights into brands and even influence consumers purchasing habits if it’s done right. We know that over 80% of our members who have take a product out of a Sample Central store have actively gone back into retail to purchase that product — that is the TRUE opportunity for established and (no-so) established brands.


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