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Effective Sampling Strengthens Brands

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

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Calvin Klein accomplished the actual perfume sample using LiquiTouch® by Arcade Inc. when launching Euphoria last year (see GCI magazine’s November 2005 issue). “It was an applicator with some of the perfume oil inside on a pad,” said Lisa O’Hara, marketing communication manager, Arcade Inc. These samples were distributed in magazines, on airlines and through direct mail. Traditional scent strips were not used in this campaign. Judged a success by the fragrance sales, the samples gave consumers the opportunity to evaluate the scent against their own skin. “People were able to try it at their leisure,” explained O’Hara.

This type of sampling also was cost effective because it allowed the brand to use a traditional delivery system, such as a magazine, while adding value to the product through the sample size and unique packaging.

Direct Sales Sampling

Direct sales always has had a unique advantage in the world of marketing. During in-home parties, trial is virtually guaranteed, and most attendees purchase at least one item. In addition to introducing products, Beauticontrol® utilizes samples to make contact with existing clients and prospects, as thank-you gifts and for add-on sales. “It’s a small investment on the consultant’s part, and is integral in building a lasting relationship with that client,” said Jo-Anne Jaeger, senior vice president, marketing, Beauticontrol, Inc. This interactive approach appeals to consumers who also can access the knowledge of the consultant during the trial. In this setting, packaging plays a smaller role next to the consumer’s experience with the product. Additionally, the consumer can see immediate results, creating a greater impact and on-the-spot sales.

Sampling and Ad-driven Marketing

Coordinating sampling with an ad campaign can increase the likelihood of trial—yet it can be a double-edged sword. “If the consumer has seen foundation applied to a model with flawless skin, she may not be as happy with her results,” said SEA’s Johnson. “As long as the advertising has prepared the consumer for a realistic experience, it will help the sampling campaign.”

Traditional media, unlike a sample, cannot convey a brand’s consistency, scent or color on the consumer’s skin. Sampling complements ad-driven marketing through public relations events, such as gifting a television audience to receive mention on the show. Ads also can direct consumers to the brand’s Web site by offering free samples through the site. However, this type of sampling may be cost prohibitive. According to Johnson, it is important to limit the number of samples per household and make sure the fulfillment company adheres to that policy. Ad-driven marketing puts the product on the consumer’s radar, and new product samples can bring the ad’s message home to the consumer. New product samples also can be included with other purchases, inviting consumers to a new product launch. In this case, the sample becomes the ad.

Measuring ROI