Let’s just say for the purpose of this article that you have just made a new product. You are keen to get the product on the shelves, but you are unsure of whether it will sell well as it has not been established. You don’t want to mass produce something that the average consumer is going to avoid buying, so what can you do?
The answer is simple, product sampling. You can either arrange to do this yourself, through your company or chose to use a Field Marketing Agency if you want everything to be handled externally.
What is Product Sampling?
Product sampling is the process a company goes through to trial new products on the market. A smaller version of the product will be made and given as a free sample to a select group of people, who may then provide feedback on multiple things such as
- Taste (if it’s food).
- The appeal of the packaging.
- Whether it stands out to other brands.
- Whether the product is priced fairly.
- Likeliness of purchasing in future.
- The company doing the product sampling will also ask the sampler if any improvements are needed before it goes on shelves commercially.
The sample can also be given to consumers in supermarkets, retail stores and even through internet based companies. One popular sample site is Bzzagent, this UK based website allows users to sign up and try products for free or at a reduced price. The catch is that they user must report back through an array of tasks to ensure they have tried the product. The more you interact, the more samples you get to try.
Sometimes, although not as often as in the past, companies may also send out free samples in the post, such as sample soap powder or sample lipstick. Although this is an unreliable method of finding people to sample a product because the samples are sent out at random. There is no way to tell if someone will use the product, or if they are all delivered at all.
The main purpose of using a sample is to get the intended market to try it before buying as in some cases it can open up the market to people who hadn’t considered buying the product before.
Advantages of Sampling
As mentioned before, there are several benefits to Product Sampling. One of the biggest advantages of sampling is the fact that it will raise awareness of the product. This is especially good if you manage to catch the eye of someone new to the product. Once a person has seen and experienced the product, either consuming or using in another way, they may be more likely to use your products in the future.
In addition to this, if someone sees the free sample but knows it won’t appeal to them, quite often they will think of someone they know that would benefit from the product. Therefore, even though they haven’t tried it they will tell someone to try it, so free advertising in a nutshell.
Another part which some may seem to think is the most troublesome part is the reviews and feedback the sample will produce. For this to be a positive aspect of the sampling, not all reviews and feedback have to be positive. There is nothing wrong with negative reviews. If a product doesn’t work it is best to find out early rather than later. The feedback can provide ways to improve the product before it is manufactured on a larger scale. This saves money and time while increasing sales. You can also build up a portfolio of testimonies that showcase your product in a good light.
There are many other advantages to product sampling, but the main thing to remember is that it will show you if a product is sellable.
Disadvantages to sampling
Like with most things in life, there are downsides to consider when product sampling. The biggest disadvantage is the fact that it is expensive. Not only this, but you may end up giving the product to someone who is part of a rival company. Therefore you are giving away trade secrets that could potentially damage your company before your new line is even out.
In a way the sample is like an advanced warning to other companies that you are bringing out something new, so they themselves will go and do the same to try and upstage you. Remember this though, if your product is better, then it shouldn’t be too much of a worry.
The best way to combat this is to carefully choose who you want to give the sample to. There are many examples out there of companies using ideas without permission, or even just stealing all together. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap! If you do decide to make a sample then choose to use a field marketing agency, to help you perform it safely, effectively and in a way that gets the most out of your potential customers.