Get Creative
October 20, 2023

The resurgence of ‘try before you buy’

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Reading Time
4 min

This digital age has inadvertently created a golden opportunity for marketers to get noticed by offering customers a memorable, tangible experience to run alongside digital campaigns. Enter the sample: the taster, the new beauty cream, or the luxurious new cat food.

Free samples afford customers the opportunity to try out a product without any financial commitment or risk. At a time where the mailbox serves as a source of unexpected joy, discovering a complimentary sample inside is like a wee gift, which can only add to the overall experience.

Ollie Burton, Agency Account Director at data-driven marketing agency REACH, says there is immense potential in the marketing strategy of samples, with a number of his customers realising significant results.

Ollie says the letterbox in general is making a comeback. “It’s become apparent that people crave tangible media. And sampling is about as tangible as it gets,” he says.

Imagine this…you reach into the letterbox with your gorgeous little moggy by your side and what? A cute little parcel inside that contains the latest in cat food goodness. Once inside you rip open the little pouch and Snowball’s eyes light up…. devouring that sample in a few gulps and angling for more… you’re sold. Snowball deserves the best and you’ve been thinking about changing her food. Now you have direct evidence and validation of what to purchase next!

Sample campaigns cover off all of the consumer purchase stages from awareness to purchase, making them a comprehensive marketing tool.

“Sampling as a medium basically ticks all boxes, right from awareness and interest in the product by delivering a free version of it directly into homes. There is no financial risk and it makes product adoption much more likely.”

An Ipsos study in 2014 revealed that 47 percent of consumers made a purchase directly influenced by getting a free sample in their mailbox.

Another advantage of implementing a sample campaign – and one that REACH believes in strongly – is the ability to target specific audiences effectively.

Achieving this is about targeting using key data, harnessing the power of Census data and Experian’s Mosaic data, and overlaying these datasets for client brands across the country.

“We’re also hugely driving the leverage of our clients’ first-party data,” Ollie explains. “Whether that’s creating profiles based off whatever database they have on hand, or  leveraging addressed mail or direct mail sample campaigns if clients want to get super-targeted.

“There’s a lot of ways we can combine different data points and get a really refined view on how we go about reaching the desired target audience.”

Sample campaigns go beyond just delivering products; they are a catalyst for engagement for example alongside delivering sample products, clients have a strong call to action such as a voucher to encourage further purchases.

“Running social media competitions is a great way to drum up social brand engagement or get people talking about it,” Ollie adds.

Another element of sample campaigns that sets them apart from regular marketing is the opportunity for creative packaging. Getting creative in the letterbox is something that’s steadily trending right now, with the introduction of earthy eco papers, vibrant and glossy postcard mailers and quirky and fun shapes.

“Along with delivering these samples, we encourage unique or exciting packaging. We’ve done all sorts of work from creating custom cardboard cartons to using biodegradable flow wrapping,” says Ollie. “Just anything that increases that cut-through and builds on the awareness and interest.

“The reach that’s achievable through the letterbox is phenomenal.”

At a time when digital strategies often overshadow traditional formats, sample campaigns work to bridge the gap. The power of paring digital advertising with the letterbox channel is increasingly evident with one study in Australia showing a key retailer that ran both mediums, compared to its competitor who only ran digital, enjoyed a 74 percent lift in market share[1].

With a comprehensive approach and expertise, REACH can help businesses to connect with their audience in a tangible and meaningful way, and leave a lasting impression.

[1] Binet & Field Study

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