blog - Quality beverage sampling isn't as easy as it looksBecause I have been in Experiential Marketing most of my career, I don’t just walk by when I see a product embracing our industry.  I want to experience the brand and also the Ambassadors to really learn about the product while I’m getting the sample.  I also look for ways to improve our programs so I probably ask more operational questions than I do about the product.My family and I were walking out of the St. Louis Cardinals game a couple nights ago and we came upon a sampling truck with two “Ambassadors” sampling a new launch of a large group of brands for one of the big beverage companies (no, I’m not going to name the company or the brand).  I was excited to try the product because I had seen the TV ads, billboards and I had even been on the Facebook page – this initiative is very integrated and the program has multiple vehicles around the country sampling these new products.

It was a hot night in St. Louis (probably 93 degrees that day) so a cold beverage outside a sporting event makes total sense.  Unfortunately for this brand, its first impression was memorable, but far from remarkable.  When we walked up to the truck, the bed was being utilized as a cooler and the product was a mixed bag of I’d guess 4 or 5 varieties of the brand.  There was no signage other than the wrap on the truck and it was confusing to see other brands under the same name mixed throughout the bed of the truck.  While the scenario I am describing would be deemed unacceptable at Pro Motion, I don’t know what the brand’s budget was or what other constraints could have prevented the program from looking more buttoned up and professional.

However, there was one element that made this activation more negative than positive; all of the ice on the product was gone and melted.  This is inexcusable!  I picked up a can and felt that it was in ice at one time, but the product was definitely not in an optimal state and ready to be consumed.  When I commented to the “Ambassador” that the product wasn’t cold, he said, “we put ice on it at 4”.  Since that was 5 hours ago and it was 90+ degrees that day, all the ice had melted and the product should not have been sampled without adding more ice.

We took a sample and walked away.  After the first sip my expectation was proven; the product wasn’t cold enough to sample.  Our first impression was a bad impression and for about $50 in ice, the brand could have been sampled in the right environment, at the right temperature.

So, when you are hiring a field marketing agency to build deep emotional connections that drive lifetime relationships, make sure you hire the right team, train them perfectly and make sure they understand the right way to sample your product.  Because if you miss just one of those elements, your product will end up in the trash can, just like the beverage I sampled a couple nights ago.