Food sampling and tasting – what factors make the difference?
When it comes to your sampling activity, what are the things you need to get right? It’s a question you need to ask yourself when you are deciding on the details of your sampling campaign, and there are a few factors to take into consideration. Here some tips for your next campaign…
It’s important to know what drives purchase decision making with your brand, and how your customers typically buy your product on their normal supermarket shop. If you are clear on this it becomes more obvious as to where to position your sampling station.
For instance do you need to educate people about the taste or health benefits of your product in order to generate trial? If so, then it maybe better to stand outside the store, where you have access to all the supermarket’s shoppers for the day – outside provides a wider opportunity than the aisle. If you were in-store you would only have exposure to customers in the aisle in which you were positioned, and if a customer does not walk down that aisle then you may have lost that potential sale.
Some products could be positioned in more than one aisle – heading to the front of the store or outside means you’re not pigeon-holing your brand.
Positioning and Hardware
The position that you request from the store manager may not always be the position you get. So remember to be as specific as possible, including the amount of space you require for your stand. Your need for power will also determine your floor allocation. If you can be self sufficient and not need power your options are improved. Most sampling agencies will have a good relationship with the store manager and should be able to get a premium space for you.
Not all stores allow mobile sampling, but it’s well worth considering for a new product, as you can then roam the store and actively target your ideal purchaser rather than more passively hoping they turn down your aisle! Remember, if you are mobile sampling it’s important that you have the right sampling trays to be able to showcase your product effectively and efficiently. They must satisfy store OHS requirements as well as being easy for the sampling staff to use, and of course must look fabulous!
Conversion to purchase
The conversion-to-purchase metric is what it’s all about, sometimes! Many companies run sampling campaigns to sell more products. But if it’s a new product then perhaps trial is the key and actual purchase less necessary in the early days.
Let’s look at a potential sales scenario for a moment:
For example if we had a 100 samples in-store and we achieve 20 product sales this means our conversion to purchase would be 20%.
Simple right? Well yes and no. This is our conversion-to-purchase, but you need to be clear that if you are based in-store you will only have access to customers that are shopping in that aisle, therefore your total sample volume will be a lot smaller than being positioned at the store entrance. When you are not near the point-of-purchase your conversion rate will be reduced.
Some figures from a recent supermarket campaign investigated both positions on different days, and the results were interesting. The outdoor sampling at the store entrance gave away 1200 samples with a conversion of 4%, achieving sales of 50, in the aisle they achieved 620 samples and a 7% conversion rate, or 43 sales. As you can see from the figures the brand achieved more new customers from being positioned at the store entrance than in the aisle on this occasion.
We are lucky that technology allow us to really follow up on marketing campaigns, and the data we can collect from the supermarkets is fantastic. It not only enables us to collect sales data prior to sampling day but also data from two weeks after. Giving us trend data on consumer behaviour, and hopefully an increase in sales as a result of the sampling campaign. Feedback from the staff conducting the sessions can also help you understand any nuance in product trial numbers for each sampling session.
We all know that staff can make or break a campaign, so make sure your talent understand the objectives of the campaign and are knowledgeable on the product. Ensure they are aware of where they are sampling, and if they are mobile make sure they have product nearby to re-stock.
Damage can easily be done to brands via poor quality staff, so invest some time in mystery shopping them from time-to-time to make sure they are doing a good job. Agree terms with your sampling agency before the campaign starts. For instance, the number of no-shows acceptable throughout a campaign. Agree the proportion of ‘poor’ mystery shops before remedial action is taken – don’t leave it to chance, make sure your sampling agency has ‘skin in the game’ too.
Investing in sampling does not need to be costly, but it is important to understand your shopper and to know where the best position is for your brand. Make sure the hardware is fit for purpose, looks good and portrays the right image. And spend the time briefing your staff – because they will make the first impression!