As a consumer, the simple experience of walking into a retail store and seeing booths setup with free samples is now an incredibly nostalgic experience. Product sampling has always been a highly emotional and inviting tactic...providing an instant gratification and engaging all 5 senses. The key is in creating positive associations and reinforcing that dopamine drip in the brain that activates when we see “new” and “free” things. It’s a clever way to break the brain out of its baseline mode as the consumer walks through a store, gently nudging them to take notice because there’s something new to discover in an entirely risk-free way! It also plays into the law of Reciprocity (more about that in a future post).
What we may have lost sight of though, during this pandemic (for obvious reasons), is just how powerful this tactic can be now as consumers long for a sense of “return to normalcy”. The sample filled physical shopping experience is one of the clearest representations of the good old (pre-pandemic) days, and it will emerge from this anxious and uncertain period in retail as one of, if not the most obvious solutions to excite and engage shoppers. Now more than ever the shopping experience is truly about the experience of shopping, and product sampling is hands down the OG experiential tactic when it comes to product marketing!
A Twitter user recently posted this tweet that quickly received over seven thousand likes:
Is she kidding? Probably. But it’s also a highly relatable example of how most of us are feeling with regard to the desire to get back to what we perceive to be “normal”. One of the interesting takeaways here is that while we as marketers spend so much time thinking about how NOT to be normal, in this particular case you can confidently spend that brain power elsewhere. In 2020 and 2021, normal is the most exciting experience a shopper can have!
"That's great, but what can I do while normal just isn't an option, smartypants?" The short answer is to consider embracing a DTC sampling model and do more online engagements. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the Covid tunnel, but it's never a bad idea to bolster your digital engagement capabilities in order to maximize your reach even in a post Covid world.
As you’re considering ways to ensure your brand stands out, make sure you’re including this tried and true tactic in meaningful ways and giving your consumers what they need...that nostalgic sense of normal. As always, the team here at Sampoll looks forward to helping you create and track all of your pre-purchase experiences whether in-store or online, we've got you covered!
1 - https://twitter.com/shannonwoodward/status/1328033312128917504?s=19