Sampling Not For Food Only

Discussion
Dec 27, 2010
Santi Briglia

By Santi Briglia

In a move towards greater hospitality and convenience, New
Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. and Westin Hotels & Resorts may have come up
with a solution for the traveler who wishes to pack light, but still work out.

The
deal establishes a complimentary program enabling Westin guests to borrow new
merchandise during their stay. That includes running shoes (with brand new,
disposable insoles for each use), as well as a variety of men’s
and women’s
apparel, including shorts, shirts and socks for men and shorts, capri pants,
shirts, sports bras and socks for women.

The program also includes in-room
fitness and equipment-free content from Exercise TV celebrity trainer Holly
Perkins, with stretching and strengthening workouts, cardio
and yoga as well as "Wellness in Travel" tips
on ways to combat jet lag.

Finally, New Balance is working
with individual Westin properties to enhance its current three- and five-mile
local area running maps. Guests traveling to a city for a major athletic event,
such as a marathon, will be provided with wellness amenities, including turn-down
gifts with "performance/fuel" goodies
for the race and "good luck" wake-up calls.

The program recently
launched at 10 Westin properties across the globe and will begin rolling out
across its hotel network in 2011.

"Convenient access to the proper athletic equipment and programming
is vital to the traveler who wants to stay healthy and fit while they’re
away from home," said Hilary Keates, director of global marketing and
brand management for New Balance. "New Balance is excited to partner
with Westin to provide their health and fitness-minded guests with footwear,
apparel, accessories, and programming for an overall enhanced experience. As
leaders in our respective categories with like-minded consumers, this alliance
made perfect sense."

Soft goods sampling is a rare occurrence at retail.
Another example: a running store just opened in South Anchorage, Alaska, featuring
a 85-meter outdoor running track for consumers to try on shoes.

Discussion Questions: How receptive do you think consumers will be to sampling
footwear and apparel? How does the sampling opportunity in apparel and footwear
compare to other categories such as food?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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10 Comments on "Sampling Not For Food Only"


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Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 4 months ago

Certainly an out of the box thinking program. This should go well for road warriors who are trying to limit their packing to a carry on. It’s also a great idea for Westin’s affluent clientele. Should be a win for Westin and the consumer; time will tell if New Balance will get the return on investment.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
10 years 4 months ago

Of the various elements mentioned the in room equipment is what I think would be the most appealing. As Ms. Rider mentions, Westin’s clientele is more upscale and somehow I don’t see any of them being willing to wear something someone else has worn (even thought it has been laundered). Of all the items that can be a pain to pack is shoes. That concept might work best because of the ability to have new insoles.

Liz Crawford
Guest
10 years 4 months ago
I love the idea of sampling products beyond food. Athletic wear for the road warrior makes a ton of sense. I have often been disappointed to discover that I forgot to pack my sneakers or gym shorts on a business trip. Having an option at the hotel would be terrific. However, sampling footwear could be a bit problematic. For example, if the shoe doesn’t fit properly and the athlete gets injured – could they sue? Do they need to sign a waiver? Apparel seems easier to manage. I could also imagine other sampling programs with iPods, iPads and Nooks. But I supposed those things sell themselves. How about razors and toothbrushes? Ever get a complimentary toothbrush from a hotel? It is 3 bristles on a toothpick. The Standard in Miami does a terrific job of sampling in their hotel. Certainly there are snacks and soap, but also toys and gag gifts. It’s like opening a goodie bag and discovering fun (pretty irreverent) stuff to choose from. Of course, personal care products have been sampled forever… Read more »
Mel Kleiman
Guest
10 years 4 months ago

I can only speak for myself on this one but I would love to not have to pack my workout clothes when I travel. I would also be predisposed to buy new stuff from a company that made this possible.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 4 months ago

Given the cleanliness of many of the Westin properties I’ve stayed in, I’d think twice before I put on somebody else’s clothes they assured me were “clean.”

Anne Howe
Guest
10 years 4 months ago

Sampling workout apparel is a great concept for hotels and brands to explore. I’m not so sure about shoes, but I’d five it a try if I knew the socks and the insoles were new. There’s nothing more refreshing while traveling for business than a brisk fitness walk, but rarely do I have room to pack all the stuff, especially in the winter. I’d love to hit the workout room for a pair of warm fleece pants, a sweat-wicking turtleneck, a sweatshirt and walking shoes and socks. THAT would get me excited and I certainly would be loyal to a hotel chain that could serve me in that manner.

I’d also like to be able to order in advance for a fitness ball and a set of 5 lb. weights to be delivered to my room with a guarantee they’d been disinfected. Another sampling service that could create a lot of female fans for a smart hotel chain.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 4 months ago

Mel hit the nail squarely on the head. There is nothing more cumbersome and difficult to pack than running shoes. Yet, for a runner, there is nothing more bothersome than missing a workout. So New Balance and Westin have solved both problems.

This is certainly thinking out of the box and stretching the new limits of future boxes. New Balance will make it easier for the exercise junkie’s to get the workouts in; and will develop a new market for their products. What’s in it for Westin? A new market of potential guests because they are being offered something Runner’s are always in search of. Congrats to both New Balance and Westin for their creative efforts. I am impressed and waiting for the first opportunity to use this amenity.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 4 months ago

I don’t know of a better means to encourage the sales of any items than to sample them. Don’t you always take a car for a test drive before you buy it? Sampling is effective with all products. Don’t we look at the pictures on the TVs on the electronic stores?

But, there is a downside to sampling. Your product has to be good. There is no better way to kill an inferior product than to sample it. Every manufacturer should take great care before they start on a sampling program.

The Westin/New Balance program makes great sense. (I might even start exercising when I am on the road.) It would not be surprising to see other upscale hotel chains develop similar programs.

Mark Baum
Guest
Mark Baum
10 years 4 months ago

I’ll limit my non-food “sampling” to demo skis, thank you.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
10 years 4 months ago

I like the idea a lot. It makes fitness activities simpler and more convenient.

I wonder what Westin will do with the “old” shoes or clothes? Donating them to a charity would be a good second step. If they do this, I would advertise it as part of the program.

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