Sampling as POME – Do You Believe Me Now?
Procter and Gamble, one of the largest ad spenders in the world, recently announced that they are going to “plow more marketing spending into sampling.” Those of us in the CPG world know it’s really true because there is a new acronym to go along with this statement. Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley calls sampling a “Point of Market Entry (or POME – a new P&G acronym).”
A story on the Advertising Age website (adage.com), reports that P&G has been cutting and consolidating their internal marketing sections for the past two years, but will be put a greater focus on sampling and digital media within its marketing spend. Speaking about digital media, P&G Global Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said he believes that concise, better targeted ads are more effective in “delivering top-of-mind awareness.”
I recall the term “Marketing Point of Entry” from earlier in my career (Sherman, set the wayback machine for November of 2000). In fact, when StartSampling was new, in a proposal we delivered to P&G titled: “An online approach for achieving controlled access to consumers at specific Marketing Entry Points,” we spoke it this way. “Consumers pass through a series of life events that present unique marketing ‘points of entry’ for brand owners. The potential to influence brand choice at opportune moments, when a consumer is forming life habits or when an event triggers a time of reflection and openness to change are crucial opportunities to present consumers with new brand experiences.”
Clearly, given the options referenced in the article, like direct-mailing Gillette razors to every male in the United States on their 18th birthday or delivering Pampers to moms as they leave maternity wards; this construct is still alive and well. They are recognizing that brand loyalty can begin in the early stages of a “lifestyle change,” and that putting a product directly into the hands of consumers at the right time and place is a vital step for capturing future market share. But the new acronym for sampling is “Point of Market Entry.” POME is not just tied to key life event moments, it’s also a statement of sampling’s inherent value. Let me go over the top and suggest that, in effect, sampling is finally being understood as a strategic choice, and a valued investment in the sustainable health of brands.
P&G’s choice to make sampling a bigger slice of their marketing will benefit long-established products, too. For example, the AdAge article cites that only 10 percent of Americans have tried Swiffer, a 15-year old, billion dollar global brand. So sampling has a role to play far beyond a product introduction, which is a refrain I have frequently sung in these writings.
The biggest takeaway here is that product sampling is now seen as a valuable and unique part of the marketers’ toolkit, continuing on its path to growth, even in this ever more digital world. The fact that it is becoming a marketing pillar for the largest consumer goods company in the world is not a surprise to those of us who live with sampling’s power to persuade day in and day out. And it is very gratifying that what we have been saying since last century is being recognized. We stand ready to help brands successfully sample in the 21st century!