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Effective Sampling Strengthens Brands

Posted: September 3, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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When launching ThermaFuse®, Joni Rae and Associates helped the company create such an opportunity by providing hairdressers samples that became gifts to their clients. To do this, ThermaFuse chose a uniquely designed mini-folder that held a duo pack of shampoo and conditioner. These folders gave the customer information about the product and promoted the brand’s core philosophy.

Mass Market Sampling

Traditionally, mass market cosmetics are not highly sampled, frustrating consumers who have drawers full of ineffective products. For a mass market brand, cost considerations are a large factor in a cosmetic sampling program.

“A couple of factors the cosmetics industry faces with sampling are: color of sample and cost of applicators,” said Johnson. “For example, mascara brands are not going to sample because the applications are so expensive and a lesser quality applicator would not provide the same experience. For (cosmetics), preferences are based on colors available. One size does not fit all.” To take advantage of efficient sampling, mass market cosmetics can make use of co-op sampling programs reaching typical targets, such as moms and teenagers. These programs are effective at controlling resampling because of their established procedures, such as using one bag with several samples inside.

Making samples available for purchase can give consumers a chance at trial without a large expense to either the consumer or the brand owner. However, this approach may lose effectiveness if a consumer is purchasing samples online. To increase the consumer’s willingness to pay for samples, include coupons, giveaways and other offers with the samples. Additionally, using a premium sample within a product can differentiate it on the shelves while introducing a line extension or a system within the brand.

Fragrances

Fragrances use magazine sampling as a cost-effective way to introduce new products and lines. This approach is limited, giving the consumer knowledge of the scent without necessarily creating a desire to purchase. However, magazine sampling can effectively reach a large target audience. High-end fragrances may find a higher ROI with sampling programs that provide an actual product sample.