Samples distributed door-to-door

This decade is proving to be one of the most challenging periods for Canadian and international marketers.With the proliferation of national private label brands, competition for the elusive loyal customer is fierce.As a result, household product sampling is increasingly called upon...

This decade is proving to be one of the most challenging periods for Canadian and international marketers.

With the proliferation of national private label brands, competition for the elusive loyal customer is fierce.

As a result, household product sampling is increasingly called upon to help gain or hold market share.

Recent years have witnessed dramatic changes in consumer buying habits. Thus marketers have had to keep pace with new and innovative marketing strategies.

The recession has been the catalyst for developing a new type of consumer – one who is conscious of value, in price and quality. Persuading this potential consumer to try, and then switch to a brand is the ongoing challenge.

Extending product lines and relaunching existing brands are common practices in today’s market. The success of these ventures requires many essential elements. One of these is trial.

Price-cutting is used to clear product and encourage trial.

Though short-term gain may be realized, it is typically not looked upon as a long-term solution.

Frequently used sampling methods to get product into consumers’ hands include in-store sampling, mass random sampling (movie theatre and sampling events) and targetted door-to-door distribution to consumer households.

Netmedia Enterprises specializes in targetted household distribution of flyers, catalogues and product samples by co-ordinating distribution locally, regionally or nationally in the belief that the success of any distribution is enhanced by targetting to specific neighborhoods in which resident characteristics match the brand target market.

Compusearch Micromarketing Data and Systems, a sister company to Netmedia, identifies and provides specific delivery area data through demographic Lifestyles and product use analyses.

(Compusearch and Netmedia are owned by Toronto-based Blackburn Group.)

Through this co-ordinated effort, distribution takes place in the target areas only.

Ensured on-time distribution, product insurance and audits are all parts of the Netmedia distribution package.

Does product sampling work?

To measure the success of a campaign realistic objectives need to be set.

The most common objectives are brand share, sales growth and coupon redemption; though some marketers do not believe in coupons and rely completely on subsequent sales figures to measure success.

Marketers contemplating product sample distribution should consider the following basic points.

- Is the research adequate to provide the necessary targeting?

- Is the quantity of samples allocated large enough?

- Is the quantity of product per sample enough to generate adequate trial?

- Is the product in a high interest category?

- Is the product suited for sampling?

- Is the coupon enclosed with the sample?

- Is the sample campaign aligned with brand promotion (e.g. trade, media, consumer)?

- Is the value of the coupon high enough to meet brand objectives?

- Is the coupon perforated for ease of redemption?

- Is the creative appealing, and does it fit brand positioning?

- Is the follow-up procedure in place to monitor the success of the campaign?

The recent surge of product sampling has produced a need for statistical evidence to gauge the effectiveness of product sample programs.

Netmedia, through resources provided by Compusearch and A. C. Nielsen, can provide comprehensive data which exhibit consumer behavior before, during and after a distribution.

During the ’90s, the product sample category has grown and developed significantly.

Indications are that 1994 will exhibit further growth as marketers implement their plans to further improve results.

Scott Lawrence is a national account executive with Mississauga, Ont.-based Netmedia Enterprises.