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Sample Packaging Engagement

By: Abby Penning
Posted: March 25, 2013, from the April 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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That direct visual connection via samples that look like tinier versions of the retail SKU is a popular option recently, helping consumers get feel for the actual product inside and out before they purchase. “Today’s high-tech, full-featured mini-products perfectly emulate the end-user experience of the full-sized product. Further, they are customizable with a variety of materials, pumps, colors and decorative elements to communicate perceived value far above the giveaways of years past,” says Hermandesse. “We also can help develop the full-size retail pack—and samplers—and support the program in either the launch phase or reboot. Our Mini Nea allows brand owners to develop promotional and bundle offers, travel sets and premium collections in a way that preserves sensitive formulations and delivers the soft actuation and precise application of our entire Nea range.”

Woodin also explains the importance of a visual connection, saying, “We believe that producing miniatures or shaped sachets to mimic the retail product is important when designing the sample package. Identipak’s shaped sachets give brands the option to switch from a miniature bottle to a shaped sachet, which mimics the retail container—a much more affordable proposition. When the consumer tries the sample, she is looking at what the retail container looks like and makes a connection, specifically when in a store looking to buy that same product.”

“Think of a body wash or hair care product,” Woodin continues. “Most brands share similar bottles, so it is important that the consumer will not confuse one brand for the other. By sampling a sachet that looks just like the retail bottle, one leaves an impression in the consumer’s mind of what exactly to look for when faced with 20 different products on the shelf.”

And Martin also says that sample packs created to mimic the full-size products can cross segments, noting that Klocke of America offers single dose thermo-formed blisters created to look like the retail product. “The blister can be printed to look exactly like the retail package, and our blisters are made as a peel back or snap back in order to use the product,” he says. “We also have a variety of small-form, low-cost blisters for fragrance, creams, lotions and serums so the [beauty brand] can get the product being marketed to their customers in a low-cost carded blister.” He notes that other Klocke of America options also include sachets, pouches and packettes in all forms and sizes, as well as a line of scented polymer products to convey the exact fragrance in wristband, air freshener, blotter and jewelry forms.

Learning From Samples

Samples don’t just deliver product, however—they also deliver important information about the product, hooking consumers in with the name, claims and ingredients, among other brand differentiators. Blister-packaged samples can—and often do—include a printed card to hold the sample, and Martin notes that this card should have enough print area to be able to tell the story about the product.

Woodin notes, “This information about the product has to be explicit and clear [within the space of] the label area or by including an information card. We also suggest our customers include a QR code, which can be scanned by a smartphone to take prospective customers to an informational website that further describes the benefits of a product.”

Martin also notes, “For our single-use blister products, we have always steered our customers into using a flat or booklet-style card to hold the blister in a visual way. The card not only creates a beautiful package, but it is also functional as a handout or sent by mail. We are also seeing a large increase of sachet-on-card applications, which show a sachet tipped onto a printed card to increase the billboard area in order to market the retail product.”

Clearly, the informational text developed for samples must be well thought-out too. And not just what the words say, but how they are developed. “Most samples are given to try a new product, and we all want to know what it is for, how to apply it, when best to use it,” says Woodin. “Unfortunately because of labeling requirements, most print type is way too small to read or the area is not large enough to include desired instructions. I’ve come across several samples that miss the target precisely because I learn so little from the experience.”

“My favorite and most effective sample [in 2012] was designed for Tigi,” Woodin continues. “They launched a hair care system for which a sample piece included a very robust carrier card with photos and information on how to apply each of the products in the line to produce the desired effect, and the product samples were beautifully executed to mimic the retail containers.”

Engaging Attention

The bottom line is getting the product into the hands of the consumer and helping them create a connection with the product to make them want to come back for more. “Positioning of the brand to a specific target is the first goal of the sample planning process,” says Woodin. “By addressing the who, how and when thoroughly, you can cohesively align marketing’s goals to ensure a successful sampling campaign.”

For Martin, the key to connection is making sure the message is appropriate and authentic for your brand and its needs. “Each [beauty brand] has an idea of what it wants in a sample package. The key is to be able to address the style and cost that fits with the sample budget it has to work with,” he says. “An example would be a customer who wants to sample 10 shades of foundation in a 0.5 mL blister pack with a card. This style sample carries a high cost due to a dosing for 10 different shades. A more economical version would be to dose only three shades in blisters and print the other seven shades on the card so the customer sees all of the available colors, and the final sampling vehicle can be produced at a much lower cost.” This way, the consumer gets the product experience, interaction and information, and the sampling program is also cost-effective for the brand.

Hermandesse also notes, “The best mini-products are truly fun for the end-consumer to use, and are handy little reminders of the retail product. When you do it right, the mini-product experience perfectly emulates its ‘big brother’ and captivates the consumer.”