As summer sampling campaigns begin, brands must remember golden rules, says Engage Research


News that Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producer and milk processor, is starting a summer sampling tour aimed at reaching more than 2m consumers should prompt other brands considering the same to be aware of the key factors in running a sampling campaign.

That’s the message from customer insight agency, Engage Research, whose director Lyndsay Peck says structuring your campaign to ensure you meet consumers in the right time and at the right place can be key.

“It might sound simple but brands should start by asking where their target consumers actually are and whether they can add extra ‘depth’ to the experience by targeting places where, for example, cheese would be a good fit. So, that’s not just supermarkets, where it can feel quite ‘clinical’, but also picnic spots and other outdoor events.”

Good delivery, she adds, is obviously important. The product you are sampling must be served in the best condition, for example soft drinks should be chilled, and perhaps partner your cheese with a cracker or some pickle.

Beyond product promotion, sampling gives a rare moment of individual interaction with customers, and hence is an excellent opportunity to build and strengthen brand equity at the same time as promoting the product itself.  Peck cites Suttons as an example, as they are currently distributing cress seeds with kids’ lunch packs at National Trust properties.

“You can even turn the cardboard lunch box into the growing pot. It’s very clever because it gets kids ‘growing’ things, is very on trend and involved with the brand.”

Sampling remains popular with brands because it works. Research by the experiential agency Hotcow in 2011 reported that 87% of shoppers are more likely to purchase a product from a product sample.

“Brands should always remember that, in addition to instant feedback, sampling campaigns always provide opportunity for further brand engagement. You should never miss an opportunity to give out vouchers, product or entry to a competition; anything that will remind the consumer to buy later.”

Engage Research is an independent customer insight and market research agency specialising in consumer & market strategy and innovation primarily across the FMCG and media sectors.