By Zak Romanoff

December 19, 2016

A recent IRI report (Mintel Grocery Retailing Survey Nov’15) shared the top innovation/improvement people are most interested in while shopping for groceries is “more sampling so I can try a product before buying it”

Attention All Food Companies, do you want to know what will enhance the probability of shoppers buying your products???? Yes?! I thought so! Here it is! This is information worth paying for! Now what are you going to do with it??

Customers want more sampling because they want to make good decisions at store level. Analyzing the different brands, packages, and product attributes is time-consuming and confusing – and most times there is nobody there to talk with them during this very important decision making process. I personally am loyal to a set of brands across the store. I just have too many things going on to make a new decision every week when shopping. Most people do not have time to think about and make new decisions every time they go to the market. I also like to know why I chose that certain brand. Performing a sampling in the store gives a food company the opportunity to talk directly with customers and win them over so that their brand will be included in those customers’ weekly routines.

The benefits of product sampling are ENORMOUS if executed properly. Supermarkets love it when brands sample product because it enhances the overall shopping experience, which helps to sell more product.  This is a Win/Win scenario.

The person sampling the product must be knowledgeable on the product line. They need to know:
— Product attributes
— Specs
How it compares to other competing products
— Cooking and handling instructions
— Everyday vs Promoted Costs and upcoming promotions
— And other key info related to the product

The product sampler needs to have all of this information locked and loaded in their head ready to share at an instant. They cannot say “I don’t know” to any questions that come up relating to these points. If an interaction goes well with a customer, that food company can gain a new loyal customer for years to come – and better yet – a customer that will brag to all of their friends about how they met a representative from “so and so food company” and they answered all of my questions! Everybody loves getting a great deal and then letting all of their friends know about it! Plus – “word of mouth” advertising is the best form of advertising because it is natural.

The person performing the sampling is VITALLY IMPORTANT. This person is the face of the food company that is meeting customers directly. All the manufacturing, packaging, accounting, distribution, and customer service efforts go down the drain if this person performing the demo is not upbeat, positive, and looking to solve customers needs.

Investing in a dedicated team that knows and cares about the products being sampled can make the world of a difference – I have seen some demos completely sell out a store’s inventory in a few hours. This helps protect distribution by building a loyal customer base for months or years at a time.

Choosing the most effective day/time to sample is also important because each neighborhood has its own “peak rush hours”.  Gaining feedback from the retailer on each individual store is key before scheduling samplings.

sampling-3As a food company, what % of your marketing budget is allocated towards In-Store Product Sampling???

Sampling has huge potential to increase brands awareness by the public and to gain new customers. Decisions are made split second at the shelf, sampling in the store can enhance those decisions towards one brand over another.


I hope this was helpful!!

Thanks Zak


Thoughts? Comments? Questions? I would love to hear from you… please e-mail me