Wednesday, July 21, 2010

7 recent brand sampling programs show a little goes a long way

Consumers love getting something free — even if it’s a tiny bit of something, as evidenced by recent sampling initiatives from these brands.

1. Texas Pete Hot Sauce

The hot sauce brand recently touted its flavor varieties by offering a limited number of product samples through the social networking site Facebook. The company planned to distribute its 10,000 samples over a four-week period, but hit that number of requests in just six days. Each sample contained a 1.9-ounce bottle of the consumer’s flavor of choice, a can koozie and a coupon that held a unique bar code to help the company track its redemption rate.

2. PureSpectrum

When the Georgia-based lighting company needed to distinguish its new 20-watt dimmable compact fluorescent lamp from rival products, a sample campaign was the answer. Test products were mailed to the company’s target audience — the 964 rural electrical co-ops across the United States. The campaign results generated an influx of purchase orders, product sales and requests for quotes.

3. Splenda

In July, the sweetener brand used sampling to give consumers a first look at its new pocket-sized mist spray and to gather feedback before rollout. Splenda required requesters to become fans of its Facebook page, which let the company better target its key demographic — women 25 and older — through their profiles on the social networking site. More than 16,000 samples were given away in just two weeks.

4. Living Proof

Free samples flew off the virtual shelves when the beauty brand offered Facebook® users a trial of its No Frizz hair care product. More than 15,000 samples were requested in a 48-hour period. Plus, fan numbers for the product spiked from around 1,000 to more than 7,000 during the promotion, even though consumers weren’t required to become a fan to receive the sample.

5. New Beauty magazine

Four times a year, the publication’s beauty sampling program, TestTube,™ sends subscribers deluxe-size samples of beauty products along with a booklet detailing the products’ features and benefits. After the first year of the program’s launch, 96 percent of recipients said they purchased a fullprice version of a sample item. The TestTube™ currently has over 20,000 subscribers, and the program continues to grow.

6. Cablevision Systems

Last fall, the New York–area cable operator brought interactive banner ads to TV that let its nearly 3 million subscribers order product samples from companies, such as Benjamin Moore, with a click of their TV remotes.

7. Sephora

The retail beauty chain offers consumers up to three free product samples with every online order. Customers select samples during checkout and the trial offerings are mailed with their purchased products.

Samples endure as a powerful way to win customers. In December, Opinion Research Corp. surveyed 1,000 consumers on behalf of the USPS — all of them primarily responsible for sorting their household’s mail.

Here are a few findings:
  • 81% of those surveyed said they will try a product after they receive a free sample.
  • 61% said an actual product sample is the most effective way for a brand to get them to try a product.
  • 65% said they would prefer to have samples mailed to their home.
  • 72% said they would prefer receiving multiple samples in a single sample box.
  • 89% said that an accompanying coupon would increase the value of a mailed sample box.
  • 84% said that they’d likely log onto a Web site and sign up to receive samples if they got a post card from the USPS driving them to the site.

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