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Eclectic Thought Samples From Larry Burns

Sampling Optimized – Context is Everything In a Sampling Society

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In the world of product sampling and marketing in general, we’re hearing more and more about using compelling visual content with fewer and fewer words. Visual content apparently allows marketers to more effectively reach consumers at both conscious and unconscious levels. The idea of visually compelling marketing really boils down to how you engage someone’s multiple senses through marketing. The visual taps the brain, whether it’s a fast car driving around hairpin turns, or a beautiful mountain stream and we can see that marketers use many kinds of subtle imagery in attempts to attract and woo customers.

While marketeers use visuals in all forms of marketing, product samples are the only strategic element that truly provides the full sensory experience to the consumer, whether it’s color, taste, sound, size or smell. The product sample doesn’t just provide sensory data; it’s gives them the full experience. That’s a unique and precious benefit sampling programs give to potential brand customers — a full experience of the product you’re attempting to persuade them to purchase.

But, there is more to it than just ‘sampling your product’. My personal bias is that customers need to experience the product (preferably without distractions) in the right context. “Marketing One to One” has been with us for a long time (Peppers and Rogers wrote the book in 1993!) and sampling has always played a role in any individual’s product experience . It means something – like shampoo should be experienced in your shower, food and cooking supplies should be tried in your kitchen and cleaning products should be tested on your own stains. The entire notion of exceptional content and visually compelling marketing is essentially attempting to give a person the opportunity to experience a product as fully as possible – so they perceive its value, understand its worth and make a conscious decision to buy it the next time they need it.

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Freeosk – are there going to be enough samples?

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(6.29.15 Chicago Tribune)

1.5 million/week for Freeosk   That’s a lot of people being reached.   Favorite line: “It does brighten people’s day,” Eichorn said. “Intuitively everyone knows that free is good.” While I like the line, there are some cultural nuances that suggest “free is good” is not a shared intuitive sentiment everywhere – but his point is well taken.   My ongoing question – will the industry shift to produce sufficient samples to drive ALL the human interest in trying new things?   Not certain this scale can be maintained…

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Reviews really matter … but

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(6.17.15 ZDNet)
New York based company Influenster a significant player with 180,000 actives a month writing reviews. Is there a shakeout coming? What is a brand to do – so many choices … but frankly I think brands need to begin to fundamentally revamp their approach to discovery. However my favorite line; “With the mobile app, the company also hopes to drive “in-store activation””. speaks volumes about the continuing reality of the way the CPG game is still being played. VAST majority of buying still happening in RL (= Real Life for those of us over 40)
zd.net/1enDJbi

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Not your mother’s fragrance …

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(5.8.15  Digital List)

Announcement of Scentbird moving out of beta in early May.   Very tight description of their reason for being and as I said before it seems very well grounded in new (and clever) approach to meeting the fragrance customer needs.   Favorite line: “…although 56 percent of grandmothers and 53 percent of mothers have a signature scent, only three percent of Millennials stick to one scent.”   If ever there was a better, yet simple, depiction of a shift in the notion of ‘brand loyalty’ among younger folks – I have not yet seen it.   Hence,  a clear and very real need for a ‘new way to shop’.

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In tune – Bonnaroo and Sampling

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(5.5.15 prnewswire, again I know  … but PR can still be news?  right?)

Makes perfect sense for GNC to be immersive at Bonnaroo.  Will be really interesting to see how the  integration of GNC with outbound media is accomplished.   Favorite line:”The outdoor space will have hammocks and classic lawn games”.  Simply because it sounds like fun.     
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Smiley360, 750K members … hmmmm

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(5.4.15 PR Web, I know, I know …)

600,000 members is a substantial community – Smiley360 Favorite line I love trying new products & giving my opinion.” (*Update May ’16 now reporting 750,000 members)
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UGC – Forbes likes Sampling, whether they know it or not ….

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(4.30.15 Forbes)

While not directly related to sampling – it actually is – since a recommendation is made to use certain “agencies” like CrowdTap and BzzAgent to generate UCG.    Guess what?  Any solid well run classic product sampling can create exceptional UGC too!.   Favorite line: Shopper behavior has changed, especially with millennials, where there is more of an expectation of having a closer relationship with a brand.

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BareMinerals – Sampling success

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(4.20.15 Retail Week)
Consistently we find marketers expressing the desire to sit at the intersection of social and sampling.  There have been several startups over the years who have tried.  Their largest challenges have always been the willingness (and ability) of brands to offer sufficient samples to consistently populate such programs.   People love them, retailers like them too – but brands?  Until a genuine re-thinking of how a brand allocates marketing resources occurs, sampling will remain an under supported strategy in the marketing world.  I love to see new ideas – and maybe this one will prosper! Favorite line “A third of recipients of BareMinerals’ make-up foundation went into a store following receipt of their sample.” That ‘response rate’ is very consistent with US norms.
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Scentbird – personalization personified.

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(4.6.15 Luxury Daily) Scentbird– a concept that appears quite well grounded in what the trends are suggesting will continue to matter ever more as time goes on – that sense of personalization AND recommendations based on that understanding. Favorite line: “…every scent is accompanied by icons that tell you where to wear the perfume (office, date night), what type of fragrance it is (sweet, fresh) and how you will feel when wearing it (classy, sexy).” Speaking as a male who is not a fragrance wearer my reaction to that level of detail is “who knew?”
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Samples Drive Beverages in C-Stores

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10.19.15 – C-Store News
Focus on setting up ‘well managed’ beverage counter (who knew 70% margin!) – but what is listed #4 out of THE 5 items for success = sampling! Favorite line “People are three times more likely to try a new product if they can sample it first.”
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Strange Product Sampling News Search results ….

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(10.29.15 – the chattanoogan.com)
On occasion, I do have to chuckle at what my searches for product sampling news pulls in. This is a quite large carpet making enterprise (over $100MM in quarterly sales) who speaks to an expense increase directly related to product sampling. I will admit I have not yet been seeking sampling clients in the world of carpeting. Perhaps one should? Or perhaps not since the notes suggest I may have missed a cyclical peak. Favorite line: “… our residential business has an unusually high sample expense due to several additional national product launches in 2015. We anticipate our new product sampling expenses will be lower in 2016…” [link]