5 Reasons to consider digital product sampling right now

March 25, 2020
Garret Kowalyshyn


We’re living in unprecedented times. Nobody can truly predict what will happen to our economy and FMCG in the coming weeks, months and years. There is no playbook for how to continue to build brands in the middle of a global pandemic crisis. So, what can you do?

We’ve all heard the famous quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In other words, the strategies and tactics that marketers have used up until this point to build their brands isn’t 100% applicable now. Even though there’s much uncertainty, you also don’t have the ability to fully scrap & rebuild your marketing plan.

Product sampling in the traditional sense has been part of most brand’s marketing mix for decades. Here are a few ideas on how you can leverage digital product sampling to drive awareness, relevance, adoption & advocacy for your brands in our current climate.

1. Traditional media may not drive the desired reach, resonance & reaction.

With so much noise about COVID-19, now may not be the best time to invest in traditional forms of media. The average American continues to consume more media, however they are becoming overwhelmed with advertising and generally more disloyal toward brands. In this current climate, this is exaggerated by the fact that consumers are preoccupied with the COVID-19 impact to their personal & professional lives. Digital product sampling creates an organic product experience in the safety and comfort of their own home. Consumers can touch, taste & smell your product which creates a much deeper connection than any other marketing stimulus.

2. In-store consumer activations are suspended and/or ineffective.

Grocery shopping has become far more stressful as consumers face queues to get into stores and rampant out-of-stock issues. Consumers have already started to reduce the number of trips to retail outlets and spend as little time in the store as possible. Shoppers are on auto-pilot and are making decisions based on habit rendering many traditional consumer activations like trade promotion, in-store sampling, secondary displays & signage ineffective (if the retailer hasn’t already suspended them). Digital Product sampling allows consumers to experience your product in the comfort of their own home, on their own timeline, without any of the added stresses of a chaotic store environment.

3. Consumers shift from offline to online

Although many consumers still love the in-store shopping experience, Consumers are rapidly shifting from offline to online given the new reality of social distancing and isolation measures.  In an online retail environment where shoppers can’t touch, taste or experience your brand, many consumers rely heavily on the power of ratings & reviews.  Using a free product sample as an incentive allows brands to efficiently capture new (or refresh) ratings & reviews which are quickly becoming one of the most important purchase drivers.

4. Simple indulgences as a coping mechanism

Nobody really understands how significant the economic impact will be after the COVID-19 situation. As many consumers are looking to cull-back discretionary spending on travel, entertainment, electronics, cars, appliances, etc, they may be interested in “simple indulgences” they can enjoy in the comfort of their own home as a coping mechanism. Digital Product Sampling can help brands drive trial and awareness for these types of products with  consumers who may not know they are actually looking for these “simple indulgences”. Once this situation normalizes, brands will have driven trial & awareness with new consumers and captured invaluable CRM information for continued 1:1 marketing touch points.

5. Develop and maintain lasting consumer relationships.

At some point in the coming weeks or months, our lives will return to some version of “normal”. How do you maintain (and deepen) any consumer relationships that you built before, during and after the COVID-19 situation? A free product sample allows brands to cost-effectively acquire CRM (emails) for consumers who have tried their product so that they can create personalized marketing touch points to retain that consumer well into the future.


In the next few months, we can hope (and expect) to return to some semblance of normal.  But it won’t quite be the same. It will be the new normal. If history repeats itself, consumer behaviour changes each time there is a global event or crisis. We saw permanent shifts in the way  consumers shop & consume after the Great Depression, the recession of the 1990’s and again in 2007 & 2008.

Product Sampling has been around for decades, and there is a reason why it has continued to play a critical role in a brand’s marketing mix. Digital product sampling creates a physical product experience in a measurable and targeted way and can help you build your brand today, tomorrow and well into the future.


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