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Digital Product Sampling vs. Traditional In-Store Sampling

Kelly wrote this on January 6, 2017 • 4 minute read

Brands have been relying on product sampling to spread the word about their products for decades. As the Consumer Packaged Goods space continues to evolve, the product sampling methods they use are evolving as well. What used to be a traditionally driven space has shifted towards a more digital approach, as brands learn the efficiencies of sampling digitally.
So why would a brand consider including digital sampling in their marketing strategy?

What’s the difference between digital and traditional product sampling?

Sampling allows consumers to try a product before buying it, which helps to familiarize them with one specific brand when they’re trying to make an in-store purchase decision. Traditional product sampling methods, like experiential marketing and direct mail, have always been a go-to for getting product into the hands of consumers. It’s a great way to create in-person interactions between brands and consumers, and if situated properly can encourage impulse purchases.

The primary goal of traditional sampling is to get product into as many hands as possible, and has proven to play an important role in boosting sales. Major CPG companies like P&G are continuing to put more dollars into sampling for one simple reason: it works.

When it comes to experiential marketing and in-store demos, though, brand marketers have been trying to overcome the consumer tracking and targeting barriers that come with it. Who’s actually stopping by their demonstration table? Is that consumer within their target market? With traditional sampling, brands lose touch with that consumer the moment they walk away with the product sample.

Digital sampling has focused heavily on the data behind sampling, giving brands the ability to target and track their sampling campaigns. Brands can now target very specific audiences digitally, and send them physical samples in the mail.

In order to optimize sampling efforts, digital sampling works with the brand to pinpoint their exact target audience. Using this methodology, brands can focus on hitting quality consumers with sample offers, increasing the potential purchase rate. Kevin Burke, the Global CMO of Glaceau, says, “Sampling is challenging due to high costs and difficulty measuring ROI. Technology is now enabling us to create more efficient sampling and trial programs.”

A primary difference between traditional and digital sampling is the cost. While traditional may seem less expensive on a per sample basis, there is far more wasted product and money due to a lack of consumer targeting. Digital sampling models have a higher cost per sample, but result in much higher quality consumers.

What are the benefits of digital sampling?

Brands that are willing to make the leap from traditional to digital product sampling strategies are seeing substantial breakthroughs. Digital sampling gives brands the ability to target specific audiences and create a more personalized sampling experience, ensuring that their product always ends up in the right hands. Brands are now able to track a consumer’s sampling experience from start to finish, collecting valuable data along the way.

Digitizing a traditional space has had its difficulties though; there is a large market of freebie hunters who just want to get their hands on any free product they can get. As digital sampling continues to progress, the fight against freebie hunters has improved drastically. Many sampling technologies now require consumers to fill out a survey to help brands better understand what drove them to trial the product in the first place, so brands can weed out the obvious freebie hunters.

The digital sampling era has opened the door for brands to be more connected than ever with fans, allowing them to gain deeper consumer insights. Because the targeting is done entirely online, brands are able to capture the profiles of every single consumer that trials their product, making it easy to remarket to them later.

Why should I add digital sampling to my strategy?

Digital product sampling helps brands target specific markets, filling in the holes that come from traditional sampling strategies, like targeting and measurability. This is allowing brands to take their sampling efforts to the next level, as digital sampling solutions continue to become more sophisticated. Brands neglecting to incorporate digital sampling into their current strategies are getting left behind, while more innovative brands are making the customer journey more personalized than ever.

Sampling can be an extremely effective strategy when executed properly, but solely relying on traditional avenues can hinder the potential impact. Traditional sampling allows consumers to physically experience the brand, while digital sampling gathers valuable consumer data that can be used for re-marketing strategies. Perhaps it’s less of a competition, and more of a cohesive approach. What if you could reach your target audience in-store and online at the same time? Insights and interaction–you really can have both.

Learn more about digital product sampling solutions.

 

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