Does Sampling drive long-term sales and brand loyalty?

April 26, 2023

High interest rates, booming energy prices and the post Covid-19 environment have fundamentally changed how consumers live and shop, accelerating shifts in consumer behaviour and digital commerce. Through forced price hikes and heightening consumers’ hygiene sensitivity Brands are to adapt to an unprecedented buying landscape. 

Footfall and basket spend are reportedly lower and in-store sampling practices are no longer viable at a time when it’s critical to create and reassure consumers of a safe shopping experience. 

Leading brands must now concentrate on the substantial, and likely permanent, surge in online shopping and alternative purchase channels. The current economy necessarily requires fresh tactics in both on-trade and off-trade, which is all about meeting the consumers where they are. 

Previously popular approaches, such as in-store events and sampling/demos, which create in-person interactions with brands and encourage spontaneous purchases, are slowly returning, while declining margins are squeezing shopper marketing budgets. 

Brands looking to survive and thrive in the new normal will have to bridge the gap between traditional brick-and-mortar shopping and digital media experiences. 

To maximize their engagement with consumers, Brands  should leverage their procurement and supply chain functions to develop virtual retail experiences and direct spend toward digital sampling. 

An example of this is running Facebook or YouTube ad campaigns inviting customers to complete a form and recieve a digital coupon that can be redeemed in off-trade and on-trade venues (more on this later).   

Here at Driftrock, we regularly see brands issue over 100K coupons, generating 35K samples in on-trade venues within a single month. 

Does digital sampling drive long-term brand loyalty?

Whilst the scale from digital sampling is impressive, do these tactics result in long-term brand loyalty? 

Recent research by  System1 has indicated the benefits of digital sampling and the results are quite positive.

1. 450% uplift in top-of-mind awareness, from sampling & advertising exposure.
2. 59% less apathy towards the brand with 101% more happiness, from just sampling alone.
3. 53% uplift in distinctiveness, showing free drink sampling alone will reduce price sensitivity.

Product sampling is one of the most effective marketing tactics to drive sales and build brand awareness. A win-win tactic, it gives consumers the chance to test out new things free of charge, and allows brands to attract new customers and stimulate impulse buying. 

According to the Product Sampling Study conducted by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, one-third of customers will buy a sampled product in the same shopping trip, while 47% of customers are willing to purchase a sampled product in the future.  It’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of sampling. 

Does digital sampling drive long-term sales or is it just a short-term boost based on product recognition? 

Benchmark data from digital sampling campaigns by Driftrock over an 18 months period indicated that; on top of impressive 30%+ redemption rates,  over 54%* of consumers have opted in to receive additional marketing comms for that brand and other associated brands.  

Data-savvy brands are also seeing the benefits of remarketing to those marketing opt-ins to enjoy a further boost in performance. 

This indicates that not only do consumers appreciate the sample but they are willing to exchange personal data in exchange for communication and incentives for the long term.

How to get started with digital sampling

The other benefit of digital sampling is the huge array of different customer experiences that can be used to drive sampling on-trade & off-trade. 

Here at Driftrock, the majority of brands and agency partners leverage 1-2-1 digital coupons and a lead form mechanism to issue coupons. 

Partnering with Eagle Eye, these digital coupons can be redeemed at the till reducing friction and increasing redemption rates. 

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