Pros and Cons of Retail Sampling with Experiential Marketing Programs

We know that sampling your product to consumers is a great way to incent trial and purchase.  Check  out  5 Consumer Advantages to an Experiential Marketing Sampling Program.  We have already discussed different types of sampling in7 Types of Sampling Programs to Consider for Your Next Campaign and we have covered 7 Tips to Activate Your Sampling Program at Retail.  An important decision when planning your sampling program is determining the best locations and events to reach and engage your target consumers.  Below are some advantages and disadvantages of sampling at retail.

Advantages to Sampling at Retail

  1. Ease of Purchase – Taking your sampling program directly to retail means that it is very convenient for consumers to make an immediate purchase, thereby increasing sales.
  2. Education Opportunity – Activating an event marketing sampling program at retail provides an opportunity for Brand Ambassadors to educate the store’s staff about the product and to develop brand advocates at the point of purchase.
  3. Reward Retailers – Providing a sampling program at retail generates excitement with consumers and boosts sales thereby building goodwill with retailers and providing a reward for carrying the product.
  4. Less Distraction – Activating your experiential marketing sampling program at retail rather than another event or in a guerilla location means that there is likely less competition for the consumers’ attention.
  5. Sales Tracking – A sampling program at retail makes it easier to track sales connected to the efforts and provides a more accurate report of program success.

Disadvantages to Sampling at Retail

  1. Traffic Limitations – Depending on the retail location traffic may be low compared to other possible activities.  Traffic is often more concentrated on specific days and times and it is important to understand each location’s traffic patterns before scheduling an event.
  2. Retailer Support – A lack of retailer support can hamper the effectiveness of the campaign and make the program more difficult to activate.
  3. Lack of Control – It is important to have enough product in stock for consumers to purchase onsite at the event and you must rely on the retailer to accommodate your requests.  Equipment is often shipped to or stored at a retail location and is at the mercy of the store staff when out of your hands.
  4. Activation Limitations – Activating inside or in front of a retail location can limit the types of activities that you can engage consumers with.  For example a loud sound system would not be conducive to the shopping environment.
  5. Space Limitations – Space inside a retail location is at a premium and could limit the size of your set-up.  Space in parking lots is reserved for consumers and varies greatly between each location thus also limiting the size or your footprint.

Understanding the benefits and limitations of retail sampling is important when planning and activating your sampling program.  Often a mix between retail and special events will yield the best results and provide the perfect balance of driving sales and engaging consumers.