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First Impressions

By: Sara Mason
Posted: October 14, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Magazine distribution also was a consideration in the development of Snap Pak sachets, which are hermetically sealed and designed specifically to snap open using two fingers to allow product of any viscosity to be squeezed out. “The simple, one-handed dispensing method has proven successful across many product categories as an effective tool in sampling and brand development,” said Peter Clayton, director, Snap Pak International. Snap Pak is looking to further innovate its product by changing the shape of the sachets, such as lip stick colors in lip stick-shape sachets, to allow them to take on more of the life of the product.

Because of the nature of the consumer-driven cosmetics market, which is changing constantly, new product launches initiated by frequent sampling ensures the brand maintains its innovative and progressive market presence. “The shear volume of products available from numerous suppliers can sometimes be mind-boggling for the customer, so it is imperative that samples get to as many potential buyers as quickly as possible,” explained Clayton. “Naturally, the bigger the brand and its distribution, the faster the development of sample packaging—and the more cost-effective it will be due to the large numbers involved.”

Another important aspect of sampling distribution methods is dosage, which directly affects the size of the sample. To allow consumers to properly sample a given product, they must be given enough of the product to do so. Products such as shampoos often need more than one trial, so a larger sample or multiple single-use packets will allow consumers to experience the full benefits of the product being sampled. However, you don’t want to provide so much product that the consumer has no reason to purchase the retail size.

“Understanding your product and its inherent benefits also means knowing how much of that product is needed for a consumer to realize such benefits,” explained Xela Pack’s Gentile. Xela Pack recently released a 5ml Stand Up sample, previously available only in larger sizes. It is unique because it is a minute sample designed for higher-end cosmetics that are used in very small doses. Because it stands freely, no additional display is needed, and it’s better suited to in-store distribution, putting it before consumers at a critical point in their decision-making process.


Marketers still perceive the launch of new products as the most important reason to use sampling. However, marketers agree that sampling is also an important tool for boosting sales and improving customer communication. Few brands sample around existing product; however, established sampling can work quite well if the right program is used—such as targeting ’tweens and teens with cosmetic brands that are “new” to them.