Sampling a new trend: Are you ready to hit your target?

by Will Northover, client services manager, Blackjack Promotions

Sampling is an effective marketing channel to really give consumers the chance to “try before you buy”. It’s proven not only to lead to improved sales but, perhaps more crucially, drive loyal customers.

Generic, mass-market sampling remains the bedrock channel for many brands, particularly those looking to raise brand awareness, more so for those early in their brand life cycle. But sitting alongside generic sampling is the equally effective targeted sampling, which is increasingly becoming a big pull for more established brands, in light of the higher quality customer data they can now get their hands on.

Kellogg’s Special K’s recent marketing push is a great example of this. The sampling involved Kellogg’s going into offices and serving up breakfast pots of its new Special K brand extension, Special K multi-grain Porridge Pots, to more than 150,000 women across the country in their place of work. The activity is based on a strong insight targeting the ‘deskfast’ demographic – that is, the growing number of office workers who have breakfast at their desks when they get to work.

As part of the campaign, office workers were encouraged to complete an online product questionnaire to provide their feedback after they had a chance to try out the product. While results have not yet been disclosed, I’ll be interested to see how responsive the group they so cleverly targeted were.

The reason such targeted activity works for Special K is because the brand is already well established and Kellogg’s knows from its own consumer data that Special K is already eaten in a work environment. The insight was there. So amongst this pool of 150,000 women office workers, a number of them are already fans of Special K and are likely to be interested in at least trying out a new variant if not being purchasers.

Clearly such highly targeted activity might not work so well for a start-up brand: the brand has to be well established in its life cycle.

Kellogg’s is not alone. Brands as diverse as Adidas and drinks brand Rubicon have also used targeted sampling with impressive results. Adidas’ ad TOUR targeted sports players up-and-down the country by letting them try out new Adidas products while Rubicon stationed branded vans at targeted locations during the South Asian festival Mela which showcased new flavours and variants, both of which saw strong results.

For mature brands such as these, such highly targeted sampling is an enticing proposition for them to further grow their brands.