Sampling By Surprise

As America pushes through tough economic times, companies are searching for interesting ways to promote their products and drive people to retail. One promotion method is sampling. Sampling has become very expensive but is key to marketers who are looking to maximize results. It’s one of the best

ways to generate trial and encourage purchase. Sampling provides the consumer with an immediate experience with the product. More and more, companies are aiming to get samples to consumers in unexpected places, a sampling-by-surprise approach. They aim to be unique and create brand recognition. Could this be a new way to disrupt and intrigue the audience?

A great example of sampling by surprise occurred recently with the premiere of the film “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Ginnifer Goodwin’s character is at the home of a guy she likes; she ends up getting
nervous and walks into his bathroom. There, she finds and applies Crest® Whitestrips®. At the conclusion of the film, in five major markets, there were Crest brand reps standing at the exits handing out samples of Crest Whitestrips Advanced Seal™. In all, they handed out 200,000 promotional cards, which consisted of upper and lower strips, a $10 coupon, and a funny message linked to the film, such as “Ensure he is into your smile.” The cards enabled people to try the new product for free and the coupons were a great way to drive customers to retail.

Another great example of sampling by surprise came from Alacer Corp. Alacer produces the vitamin drink mix Emergen-C®, which is a health and energy booster. Alacer is the sponsor of the 2009 Burton® Super Demo Tour and the Burton U.S. Open. In the Rocky Mountains and on mountains on the east coast, Alacer reps wore branded backpacks and handed out samples of Emergen-C to snowboarders and skiers on the mountain and in lift lines. Also, if people wanted to taste other flavors they could visit the drink-mixing stations positioned at the base of the mountains under inflatable tents dubbed the Emergen-C Get Shred-Ready Igloo. After the reps handed out the drinks, they collected e-mail addresses so they could send out their monthly newsletter and better their brand and CRM awareness. Michael Galef, Vice President of marketing for Alacer Corp., spoke recently about the sampling technique, saying “We’re just being authentic by sampling to our customer in an environment that is friendly and where people are having a great time.” Both examples created successful promotions by capturing the public’s imagination with creative that is entertaining and interactive, while driving the consumer back to retail and promoting brand awareness.

– Mike Diehl