Deliver Magazine. Mail Marketing Strategies from the U.S. Postal Service®

4 Reasons to Send Product Samples


Cindy Johnson spent more than 15 years at Procter & Gamble, including her tenure as the corporate sampling programs manager. In that time, she worked with nearly all of the P&G products and developed some valuable insights into how and why sampling continues to win over customers.

Johnson, who now consults with top marketers as head of her own firm, Sampling Effectiveness Advisors, shares four ways mail samples are more formidable than ever:

1. They’re effective. With more than 30,000 different products on the shelf in the average grocery store and with the typical consumer receiving as many as 3,000 advertising messages a day, a sample trial is one of the few ways that guarantees a brand due consideration from its target audience.

2. They’re growing in importance. Today’s consumers aren’t taking as many risks on a new brand or a new product. They love to try new products, but don’t want to spend $7 or $8 on a new shampoo to see if they like it. So they are relying on product trial experiences to tell them whether they are going to like the product or not. Coupons are nice if you’re going to buy the product anyway. But if you want to reach a new consumer who has never tried your product, the best way is going to be through a sample.

3. They reach people where they make decisions. Two or three years ago, 80 percent of all purchase decisions were made in store. People were out of the home more often, and brands had to reach people where they were — out having fun or at work, or whatever. But now, because of the economy, 70 percent of purchase decisions are made at home. Consumers are making lists, and they’re going through their cupboards and figuring out what they need. Plus, they’re just not going out as much. So brands really have to try to reach the consumer and provide samples at home, where the decisions are being made.

4. They’re innovative. There is a new technology developed by First Flavor called Peel ’n Taste.® It’s a film sample you put in your mouth that dissolves and gives you the same flavor experience as the product. For beverage brands especially, this will be a good way of sampling because in the past, they’ve really only been able to sample in store or at events [from a can or bottle] and there hasn’t been a good way to reach households. It will significantly reduce the cost and complexity of sampling for them. With this technology, they can actually send a sample through the mail, in a regular letter-sized envelope. Peel ’n Taste® will open up a lot of doors for companies to send samples to consumers.

B-to-C Marketing, Large Business, Medium Business, Product Samples, Small Business