Guest blog: Utilising smart sampling to minimise waste and give consumers an experience to remember – Richard Lloyd-Williams, Collider

Waste from ill-conceived sampling campaigns isn’t just an environmental problem. From an audience perspective, campaign wastage can be the equivalent of paying for an ad for golf clubs in the middle of The X Factor Final. Done smartly, however, sampling to showcase a product and introduce it to a new audience remains a powerful tool.

In today’s waste-conscious times, ‘smart sampling’ is the only way to go. I believe 2019 is the year that this will come to fruition – by combining the use of audience data, proprietary insight, and a core creative concept, sampling campaigns can minimise wastage by targeting audiences more effectively, as well as defining when and how they will be most receptive to a sampling message. In short, drive impact.

Many FMCG brands remain committed to sampling. According to a recent report, the primary factor that most influences the decision to purchase, is getting a sample or seeing a product demonstration. With 85% of consumers likely to purchase after participation in events and experiences, and over 90% have more positive feelings about brands. [Source: EventTrack Study 2018 ]

Yet a desire to reduce sampling’s cost (when it is broken down by cost per sample, can seem proportionately expensive) has led to many one-dimensional and derivative campaigns that at worst end up as own goals.

Meanwhile, a misplaced desire to increase sampling’s effectiveness – by maximising the number of samples distributed, for example, or cheapening the experience by enabling more people to take part – is not just wasteful, but also damaging, both to perceptions of the brand and consumers’ motivation to purchase.

As today’s consumers are more eco-friendly, who wants to end up with branded litter, as a reminder of an inadequately targeted and scatter-gun sampling campaign?

‘Smart sampling’ avoids these potential pitfalls while maximising sampling’s strengths – its potential to get your product in the right people’s hands, to foster an emotive connection or brand narrative, to trigger recognition and to build understanding, delivering impact against campaign objectives while offering value for money. And the most successful sampling campaigns share five ‘smart’ principles:


  1. Focused messaging

Just as for any other form of marketing, deliver a message that truly resonates with the audiences. Ensure there is a simple, emotive and authentic creative concept at the heart of the sampling campaign.


  1. Engaging your audience

Strike the right balance between reach and engagement most appropriate to the campaign’s specific objectives and best-suited to drive required ROI. Choose from the spectrum of sampling tools that now exist. These range from brand-to-hand; to social sampling; door drops; office drops; in-store; and media partnerships.


  1. Effective geo-targeting

Don’t rely on audience demographics supplied by venues and sites. Use a combination of audience data, eg: TGI, Acorn; sales data and proprietary insight to geo-target where an audience is as well as when they will be most receptive. Then go beyond this by cross-relating this to data with multiple touchpoints through the entire customer journey, including where they are most likely to purchase. Get this right and effective sampling become part of an integrated piece of comms with minimum wastage and maximum ROI.


  1. Measurement

Sales, brand perception, NPS and likelihood to purchase can all be measured accurately through data collection before during and after a sampling campaign, though methodology to do so must be built into any campaign from the outset alongside clearly-defined objectives.


  1. Recycling

No sampling campaign should ever go live without a stringent process to manage and recycle the physical waste that is created. Demonstrate social and corporate responsibility by implementing a thorough approach to recycling on site and clear messaging about how to recycle any waste. Recycle data, too, by collecting it in real time, learning from it and feeding this insight back into the campaign to improve effectiveness and capitalise on opportunities.


Sampling is a force to be reckoned with – just as it always has been. But it’s no longer enough simply to hand out products to anyone passing by.

Effective audience targeting and engagement are key to creating campaigns that drive real impact – as is ensuring sampling is closely integrated within a connected brand experience.

Get this right and your sampling will be best-positioned to deliver on its true potential.


Richard Lloyd Williams, experiential business director, Collider

Share:Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook