Try This – You’ll Love It!

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Try This – You’ll Love It!

It’s no big secret that in-store sampling can be a powerful tool for connecting consumers with brands that you are trying to promote.

It’s risk-free and it brings shoppers closer to new products, so why don’t we amplify its benefits – simply by using it properly?

You can dramatically increase the effectiveness of in-store sampling with just a small dose of shopper understanding. Sampling is a successful tried and tested formula, however in the grocery world, things can still sometimes go wrong.

Sampling is simple – here we have a new product, and the shopper is reluctant to spend their money on something untested, so providing them with samples right there in the aisle breaks through that barrier straight away.

An independent research study called R.I.S.E (Report on In-Store Sampling Effectiveness) commissioned by PromoWorks was able to measure the effectiveness of sampling – and it provided some hard facts:

  • Sales for existing products sampled rose by 177% on the day of the event, and by a further 57% during the following 20-week period.
  • The sales lift for the line extension of the product sampled was 919% on the day of the event, and 107% during the following 20-week period.
  • The sampling was linked to the consumers’ overall shopping basket expenditure increase of 10%, compared to that of the average frequent shopper.

All that is required is a little shopper understanding to ensure this scientifically grounded, multi-sensory campaign has a huge impact in-store. The problem is that all too often, in-store sampling is not carried out properly, reducing the impact considerably. Tables are bland and boring, and the sampling staff appear not only disinterested in the product, but to want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. This makes for a disheartening request to passers-by to try a new product – as something served on a lacklustre white table, in a clear plastic ‘medicine dispenser’ is far from motivating.

Sampling is the only Shopper Marketing Tactic that involves all 5 senses (sight, sound, touch, smell and taste) directly at the point of purchase. When done properly, sampling can really grab a shopper’s attention, and to do it well, you have to get the senses involved in the decision-making process.

People eat with their eyes first, and so it seems obvious that the sample should look appealing. Make the visual displays stand out in such a way that shoppers will want to approach the sampling stand rather than simply passing it by. If the sample looks good, it instantly raises expectations and can determine the overall success of the sampling process overall. It is also worth noting that shoppers disregard 95% of the visual information they receive in-store – so stand out!

When it comes to smell, the product’s aroma is most effective if it reaches the shopper before the shopper reaches the sampling station or core product aisle. This is because it takes a little time for an aroma to reach the brain and set salivation in motion.

How big should the sample be? A morsel or mouthful? Sample size has a big impact on a shopper’s inclination to purchase, e.g. a single square of chocolate might not have the same salivary glands’ responses that a piece of strong cheddar of the same size would. Decide in advance how much is enough; it isn’t something that the staff should be figuring out at the sampling table.

Sense of touch is used by shoppers to evaluate many things; they speed up when walking on hard surface and slow down on soft carpet, and a sliver of salmon served on a silver platter and eaten with a silver fork tastes very different than the same salmon eaten from a paper plate with a plastic fork. Furthermore, what a shopper hears can have an effect on whether they buy the product. Imagine the difference in the sounds of these two offers from a sampling operative:

“Hiya luv, d’ya wanna try some yoghurt?”


“Can I interest you in a tasty spoonful of cold, fresh raspberry yoghurt, bursting with fruitiness?”

Sampling can be much more effective than many other in-store promotional initiatives, however, there is a big ‘if’! – it can only be very effective if it is done properly. Carry this task out successfully and it can be an enjoyable sensory experience that reaches shoppers’ emotions, results in a trial purchase and becomes a long-term behaviour change.

My name is Phillip Adcock, one of the world’s leading authorities on shopper psychology and behaviour, and Managing Director of SBXL. Why not tap into over 20 years worth of shopper insights today by getting in touch today? Email: or call 08707 66 99 74.