Recent research from behavioural communications agency HeyHuman confirms what many suspect – and witnessed in the months between lockdowns, sampling is very positive and effective under careful Covid conditions.
Whilst shopper sampling hasn’t been prioritised by brands since lockdown one, the campaigns that did take place were welcomed and popular by shoppers who understood the promotions to be safe whilst offering a moment of flavour, interaction and variety.
Some brands seemed about to grasp the opportunity just before a second lockdown looked inevitable, and may have missed the chance to steal a march on Christmas competitors, but that that opportunity looks likely to return soon enough for those who are ready.
HeyHuman’s survey was carried out among more than 1,000 UK shoppers. It also canvassed around a hundred local retailers and found that nine out of ten (91%) plan to run the same number of, or even more in-store promotions.
The research has confirmed that Covid-19 has not dampened consumers’ enthusiasm for in-store promotions based around product sampling: 98% said they still feel comfortable talking to promotional staff and receiving information about new products and samples/trialling when they are out shopping.
In fact, 82% said they are now more willing to stop and hear about new products and take samples compared to the start of the year, as they now have more time to consider and try out new products.
As for where shoppers prefer to sample these new products, more than half (57%) want to do so at a local shop near their home – 40% inside the store and 17% just outside.
Of those consumers, a quarter (25%) say they now tend to use their local shops more as they have realised how convenient they are with a good range of products. Almost as many (24%) say product sampling is a great way to ring the changes and see something different when they’re popping to their local shop.
In addition, one in five (20%) highlighted that they now appreciate their local community more and have got to know the people who run their local shop.
Liz Richardson, managing partner at HeyHuman, notes: “Local and independent shops have fast become the backbone of the Covid-19 shopping experience. They’re the source of much-needed items and a key part of the UK’s growing sense of community as we strive to beat the pandemic.
“Because people are doing much more of their shopping locally, our research shows there’s a real opportunity to run effective, well-received activations in this channel, one that’s often overlooked by brands. It’s a great way for local retailers to offer new things to try and keep people coming back for more. The brands that understand and tap into these new shopper behaviours are the ones that will do best in our current climate.”
Tellingly, this survey was performed directly in the shopping environment, adding to its relevance.
Liz Richardson told fieldmarketing.com “We carried out the research face to face, talking directly to convenience retailers and their customer.”
She continues “People told us they feel safe shopping and partaking in sampling activity in their local community; local retailers too are keen to use different tactics to drive traffic to their stores and sampling, done safely, is something they are keen to do more of. We think brands will catch up with this sentiment when we head out of this second lockdown, by staging more activations.”
It would be great to see. As Liz Richardson concludes, “There is little to no sampling taking place in the channel and that’s the disconnect. Brands need to adapt their activity and start thinking about how they can use the channel in the future – and where they might previously have activated in high footfall locations, they might want to adapt their plans to meet shoppers where they are most likely to be receptive to hearing about new products.”