The Basic Message—From Sample to Brand Fan: Additional Insights

Guy Gangi, director, brand strategy, planning and design for Kaleidoscope, adds to the sampling discussion.

GCI: Is it a reasonable or feasible goal to create a sale through samples?

Yes, it is reasonable and feasible to create sales through samples. The most effective way to create a sale through sales samples is to relate the samples to an integrated brand program. The primary goals for sales samples are to drive awareness for a new product launch, test a sample to see if consumers like the product and to get it in the consumer’s hand without a transaction. This can be achieved through product demos, samplings, coupons, contests, price reductions and free product giveaways.

GCI: What other goals are expected and achievable through samples?

The primary goal of a product sample is to entice the consumer to become a loyal new user of the product. That goal can be achieved though the use of integrated brand programs such as direct mail, trade show giveaways, product hand outs, website offers and promotional coupon sales. For example, if a Hershey’s chocolate syrup product is handed out in a retail store and is paired with a coupon for 20% off a carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, the sample is now driving the purchase of a product through effective integrated branding.

GCI: What are new or soon-to-be-available options in creating a brand or product association through sampling—i.e. new technologies for creating samples; new designs; re-evaluations of sample designs, branding strategies, etc?

Web based technologies and mobile devises have drastically changed the way consumers interact with brands and new products. Mt. Dew is a popular brand that frequently hosts design contests for their packaging design right on their website.

Consumers can submit designs for the packaging and win prizes, further expanding their engagement with the brand. These designs are often leveraged as samples and promoted to the public for open voting on the best designs. This strategy engages new and existing drinkers of the product to live the brand and it indirectly creates a community of Mt. Dew fanatics.

Kaleidoscope specifically leverages its Innovation Lab technology to test iterative design thinking to explore new ways to position products differently through 2D & 3D design. Iterative design thinking is a process by which brand owners can test and modify the packaging solution at ever point of design. Design is then used as a visualization tool instead of a solution based process.

Often, knowing what does not work is just as important as discovering what does work for new product or packaging development. This process and approach saves brand owner’s time, resources and money.

GCI:  How can sample packaging deliver the same messages that can be delivered through the primary product packaging — things such as brand position (natural line, high-tech line) and the brand owner company’s corporate values (green company, sustainable initiatives, ethical sourcing, etc)?

Packaging design must be an extension of the brand’s value set. Brand owners rely on packaging to align with the corporate values and their unique positioning in the market. Sample packaging offers brands the opportunity to explore different packaging variations that express and evoke different consumer emotions, test them and determine the design option that resonates with consumers.

There was a new sampling trend in promotional samplers that are less traditional in their delivery systems and create a longer-lasting experience with the product and brand—giveaways that are permanent reminders of the product and brand. And I know, for instance, that for some consumers, traditional fragrance samples can take the place of an actual shelf size purchase.

GCI: How does sample packaging walk the line with creating strong consumer awareness and providing a real brand experience (more than, for example, a one-time use sample) and not dissuade a purchase of a full size product?

The goal is to not limit the brands touch point to one encounter. The overall goal of sales samples are to tie the product to an over arching integrated brand program. For example, a popular moisturizer mails out 6 oz. samples of the product with a coupon for 15% off with the purchase of the full size product at their nearest retail store. The mailing successfully increases the brand awareness while encouraging and reinforcing the purchase of the full size product.

GCI: Are there new options for this type of sampling choice?

The most popular types of sales samples are demos, samplings, coupons, price reductions and free product giveaways. The sampling types are the same but the method in which the message is spread to consumers is now very different. Integrated programs now leverage QR codes that send consumers to product specific web pages, mobile advertising for new product sampling and other new age promotional marketing tactics to further expose these traditional types of sampling.

GCI: How would you suggest brand owners evaluate whether the sample design and the delivery system is appropriate for the brand and product?

Front-end strategy and research are the most critical components for evaluating whether a sample design is appropriate for a brand or product. For a new product or packaging design to be successful in the retail environment, the brand must align with the need states of its consumer. Sample packaging helps brand owners test new products in a controlled environment to evaluate if the consumer target will respond positively or negatively. Brand owners must root their design in strategy and research to effectively position new product or packaging launches for success.