One Blog |January 31, 2012 | Point-of-Sale Marketing Management

The Power of Beverage Sampling - See It, Sample It, Buy It

Mark Fullerton

Recently I stopped in to my local Kroger’s to pick up some Yuengling Lager. When I got to the beer section I noticed a tower-display of a new beer, Bud Light Platinum. I picked up a $5.99 six-pack and forgot about Yuengling.

For $5.99, I was willing to take a risk because the worst that would happen is that Platinum would be just another repackaging of Bud Light. In other words, for a brand I knew, at a price that was within my expectations, I was willing to take the risk and buy it without knowing anything about it. 

On the other hand, I am unlikely to buy an untried $20 bottle of wine without someone recommending it, or reading about it in a wine-related publication, or sampling it myself.

Sampling has become the best way to sell more consumer packaged goods (CPG), like wine. If you’re a wine supplier, you want to make certain that your customers (the distributors), and their customers (the retailers), and their customers (the consumers), perceive a relatively low risk in purchasing your product.

Reducing the Risk

Sampling is an excellent way to reduce a customer’s perception of risk; and suppliers, distributors and retailers alike have come to realize this.

In response, Friday night in-store tastings have given way to “Wet Wednesday“ samplings, and “Thirsty Thursday” tastings, where shoppers can taste to their heart’s content for 25 cents a glass — with plentiful, free hors d'oeuvres.

Our customers, the wine distributors, sample their retailers to convince the store’s wine buyer to pick up the new “hot” wine. They say, “A taste is worth a thousand words — or multiple media buys.” In short, a sample is better than even the slickest ad in Wine Spectator.

The explosion of the number of new beverages in general, and the new flavored and function waters specifically, has also been a reason that the water category has turned to sampling as a way to increase sales. Shoppers, given an ever growing number of options from which to choose, are unlikely to risk their money on something they haven’t tried (or tasted) — especially if they’ve never heard of it before.

I was willing to try Bud Light Platinum because of several factors:

  • The location in the aisle of the Point-of-sale display (POS placement)
  • The sexy dark-blue, barely transparent glass bottle (POS attractiveness)
  • The price (within my expectations) and
  • The brand (Bud).

Without the name Bud, the risk would have been higher, despite the placement and attractiveness of the POS display. And without the known brand name, the price would have needed to be lower, or I would have had to sample it.

The Shift to Sampling

Clearly the marketing of many products — especially beverages — has shifted away from traditional advertising, and moved to a mix of POS signage and displays and sampling.

If you are a manufacturer or distributor of consumer goods, you may already know the value of sampling in increasing brand awareness and product sales. But before you spend a lot more  money in this area, consider the following:

>> Do you have the tools in place to track, measure and manage your product sampling activities, and correlate these activities to sales results?

Click here to learn more about our Product Sampling Software:

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