We encourage all of our clients to hand out product samples at experiential marketing activations (assuming it makes sense for their company, of course). Why? First of all, it’s effective. A report from Sampling Effectiveness Advisors shares this statistic: 73% of consumers said they were likely to buy a product after trying it. Only 25% said the same thing about seeing a television commercial.

Product sampling can also help consumers better understand a company’s product and businesses meet their goals. Let’s explore these idea more in depth.

Product sampling will draw people to your activation

Every year the Event Marketing Institute publishes a report called EventTrack that demonstrates best practices in the experiential marketing field. One of their questions to consumers is what motivates them to visit experiential marketing activations.

The overwhelming majority of respondents – 81% – said they walked up to a company’s display because they wanted a product sample or other free giveaway. From there, the numbers fall off dramatically. Only 54% were drawn in by a discount or special offer; 49% wanted to learn about the product or service being promoted; and 46% said they liked the brand or thought the activation looked interesting.

It’s hard to argue with the numbers. And it’s hard to argue with something that everyone (especially anyone doing events on college campuses) knows: People like free stuff. They like free food, free clothing, free drinks, free anything. Giving away product samples at any type of experiential marketing event is the best thing you can do to draw consumers to you.

Product sampling gives customers a taste (or feel, smell, etc.) of your product

If you goal is to help consumers better understand your product, there’s nothing that works better than product sampling. Period. You can tell them your product will make their skin healthier, their mind sharper, their body healthier, their home smell better. You can show them how it looks and what makes it different from the goods offered by your competitors. You can list the celebrities, doctors or other professionals that have endorsed it.

But until a consumer tries it and has their own experience with it, they won’t know if they like the way it tastes, smells or makes them feel. That experience, and their ability to use their senses to explore your product, is very important.

Product sampling can be a powerful first step in getting a consumer to try your product for the first time. It can also be your first step in creating an emotional connection between your company’s product and your target consumer. That emotional connection is the core of developing loyalty to your brand (more on this later).

Product sampling gets customers thinking about your product

Most people go to the grocery store with a list, or at least a good idea of what they need to buy for lunch, dinner or the weekend’s snacks. They don’t necessarily go looking for your product. And if they just see your product sitting on a shelf, they probably won’t be motivated to buy it.

But if a real person is standing in the aisle and offers them a sample of your food, or a demonstration of your cleaning product, they’re more likely to stop. Once they’ve tried the item for themselves, they’re more likely to buy it – even if it’s not on their shopping list.

This is one example of how product sampling gets consumers thinking about your goods or services when they wouldn’t be otherwise. People are busy. It’s hard to catch their attention, and hard to get them to think outside their bubble. But by presenting them with something they can’t resist, and something they can experience with their senses, you can do an even better job of getting them to notice you.

This is a good place to mention that anytime you give out product samples, you should make sure you’re getting them to your target audience. If you’re trying to reach moms with young kids, going to the grocery store during a weekday is probably a good idea. If your target market is college kids, or working professionals, you’re unlikely to catch them at the grocery store during the same times. Try handing out product samples on a weekend, or choose a different venue entirely.

Product sampling helps build customer loyalty

Getting a one-time customer is great. Getting a long-term customer is much better. Many business magazines and other resources say it’s five times more expensive to get a customer than to keep a customer. You want the people who are already buying from you to keep coming back.

That’s why companies invest so much in building customer loyalty. Experiential marketing is a big part of the push to secure customers who will buy your products for life and encourage their friends to do the same. Sampling can also be a powerful tool for meeting the same goal.

If you’re going to build customer loyalty, you need to get people to like you. One way of doing that is giving them something for free. It tends to make them feel like you’re doing them a favor. If they like your product, and they first tried it in an environment where they felt good – in a familiar place with a nice person helping them – they’re more likely to form a positive association with it.

Are you hoping to begin a product sampling program? Do you want to make your existing product sampling program more interesting and engaging for consumers? Factory 360 can help. We love to help companies find creative ways to get samples in front of consumers. We can also advise you on numerous other experiential marketing techniques. Contact us today for a free sample of our professional services.

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