Brand Sampling Best Practices

Sampling is crucial for brand new products and products with little to no media support. It immediately drives trial of your product with consumers and hopefully if it’s a good product drives a purchase. On Monday, January 26, Chipotle had a national offer where people could buy their new, organic tofu sofrita and then a receipt for a free burrito on another visit before February 28. While this promotion wasn’t typical sampling, there are still great lessons to be learned from Chipotle. Following are four best practices for brand sampling.

  1. Try to Create Pre-Buzz

Over the summer during Chipotle Cultivate Festivals across the country, they announced that sofritas were being added to the menu. There was even a chance for consumers to purchase one. On January 26, many already knew what sofritas were and thus were more likely to purchase them.

Before sampling, let your target audience know where and when you will be sampling. This can be done through your website, print flyers, word-of-mouth, or your social media channels.

  1. Target Your Sampling

“Guerrilla sampling” which is handing out products blindly on the streets is not always the most effective. You want to aim to get your product in the hands of your target demographic. Chipotle targeted its core consumer group that was likely to try a new product just because it was Chipotle.

While it can be expensive to set-up a booth at certain events, you can still select public areas for your brand. There are parks, beaches, playgrounds, colleges and community centers where you can do sampling for little to no overhead costs.

  1. Incentivize the Trial

Organic tofu isn’t for everyone. Chipotle knew this and incentivized the purchase/trial with the reward of getting a free classic menu item. Consumers want to be rewarded for their time and for their potential to buy your brand.

Pass out a coupon or some other small incentive with your samples.

  1. Explain the Product

In addition to the pre-buzz at the Cultivate Festivals, sofritas has its own landing page on Chipotle.com. The page explains the ingredients and how they are made. Education is key to launching new product to mainstream consumers.

If your product doesn’t have tons of information on the package, make sure to hand something out with it. A card with your website information or social media pages will be helpful. This also closes the loop on driving traffic to other platforms.

Remember, sampling is more than just standing on the corner handing out freebies to people that walk by. Be strategic and plan ahead to make sure your efforts actually help with business results.

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