• Lobster

Driving packs in hand - Alternatives to in-store sampling

Updated: Jan 26

Toby Lyons, June 2021


Driving trial is a common campaign objective across Shopper, with In-Store Sampling being the ‘go to’ for many FMCG brands given its very direct way of getting packs in hand. Since the advent of Covid-19, the decrease in store footfall and continuing hygiene and social distancing measures has meant that In-Store Sampling is a less desirable and often unavailable media investment.


With trial driving media just as important as ever, we have outlined the most effective alternatives to In-Store Sampling that FMCGs can use to get packs in hand.


1. Retailer Online Sampling


More large-scale UK retailers offer online trial driving opportunities to brands. One option is bag drop sampling, where leaflets/coupons can be placed in the customers online shopping bags with the sample. Due to an ever-growing number of people doing their grocery shopping online (Online share of UK grocery shopping reached record 14% in January), this has become a much more attractive option. FMCG’s can also advertise their product samples on certain retailer sites allowing the customer the option to opt-in to the sampling opportunity at checkout. This guarantees the shoppers they target are much more likely to re-purchase, however this tends to come at a higher price to brands.


Available at: Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Morrison’s, Ocado.


2. Mobile App Sampling


There is a growing usage of mobile apps which offer online sampling opportunities through receipt scanning. These apps can be activated cost-effectively cross-retail, and also encourage customers to write reviews and take part in surveys. They are therefore perfect for brands looking to drive trial, boost rate of sale in-store and gain real world feedback on new products.


Examples: Checkout Smart, Shopmium


3. Third Party Direct Sampling


Brands can trial products using direct sampling through third party websites such as online clothing retailers and even Deliveroo. This gives brands scope to reach new audiences and includes the implied endorsement from the third-party. Brands can also benefit from supplying their sample alongside the third party’s product, for example by using Deliveroo you can reinforce your sample as a regular pre-meal occasion. Third party direct sampling also often includes fully branded leaflets/coupons upon delivery ensuring brand messaging is communicated effectively.


Example: Deliveroo Editions Sampling, ASOS


4. Targeted Digital Sampling


Due to Covid-19’s in-store sampling restrictions, there has been an emergence of companies leveraging technology solutions to target the most suitable customers for brands sampling campaigns. Utilising social media ad tools, they can target shoppers based on demographics, proximity to stores, likes + interests, preference of retailer and shopping habits. This means FMCGs can target shoppers who are already most likely to buy their products or fit the bullseye demographic, and by delivering the ads in proximity to stores can drive footfall to aisle. If concerned with delivering a stronger ROI rather than just driving product trial, this may be the best sampling option for your brand.


Examples: Flavor, Zappit


How do I select the correct trial driving opportunity for my brand?


Although Covid-19 restrictions are relaxing in the UK, many shopping habits have permanently changed and a return to mass In-Store Sampling in the short term is unlikely.

Before deciding on the route you want to go down to drive trial, consider your overall campaign objectives and budget available. There is no one size fits all approach, however by exploring new trial driving opportunities, there are ample ways to get packs in hand to suit most budgets and objectives.

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