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The risk of contracting coronavirus has driven more and more people away from public spaces like their offices, schools, shopping malls, and grocery stores, and keeping them at home.
But despite staying home, studies show that Americans are still spending a lot of money — especially on food and their beloved pets.
Although people aren’t doing in-person shopping, they’re doing a ton of online shopping. That’s why right now is such a great time for brands to stay ahead of their audience through at-home product sampling.
Product sampling campaigns have been around for centuries. Brands like Sam’s Club and Costco are notorious for tapping into the power of the free sample to build brand awareness and generate interest in their products.
When it comes to reaching college students during coronavirus, product sampling can be a powerful way to increase brand awareness and affinity. In fact, 84% of university students say they are more likely to purchase a product after receiving a free sample or trial.
Discover how product sampling can benefit your brand and different ways to target college students with product samples during coronavirus.
Just as it sounds, product sampling is the strategy of handing out complimentary products as a trial run for potential consumers.
Product sampling was first championed by a soap manufacturer in the 1850s, who realized the power of handing out samples in building his fan base. Now, product demonstrations and sampling are popular across many different industries.
As the benefits of product sampling became more well-known, many businesses began to think of different methods for reaching their audience with their products. Brands like Tupperware and Mary Kay began to send their products directly to people’s homes, and started crafting special events that invited people to sample their products.
Only more recently has product sampling moved into the digital realm, with brands targeting new customers through social media and email with e-coupons and special online-only offers.
The psychology behind sampling is simple — people love free stuff. Not only does handing out free samples lead to brand trust, but people are likely to develop a positive view of your brand as a result.
Other factors contribute to its effectiveness, including some key consumer insights:
Testing out a product doesn’t require any commitment or investment from the receiver.
According to the Behavioral Changes in the Trial of New Products, “after the use of the sample, the consumer might be less uncertain about a brand’s performance.” Sampling can be a subtle way to encourage people to choose your brand over your competitor.
When someone is given a free sample, they’re likely to want to return the favor. By giving away free product samples, consumers are likely to make a future purchase.
Allowing consumers to physically experience your product creates a strong emotional bond between them and your brand.
Interactions — the company that handles Costco’s sampling — found that their efforts led to a 71% increase in sales of beer and a 600% increase in frozen pizza.
From direct mail to door knockers to social media, here’s how to distribute product samples to college students and their parents.
Even though most college students are forgoing student housing, many are still living in off-campus apartments or back at home with their parents.
Whether it’s through a mailbox drop or delivery to a doorstep, there are many advantages to sending products directly to where students live.
Hershey’s Reese’s tapped into the power of direct-mail product sampling and sent over 30,000 Reese Outrageous! candy bars to over 20,000 households. Within a week, 100% of the samples were claimed. Over 88% of recipients rated the product 4+ stars, and 66% opted into Hershey’s email list.
You can also work with housing management to hang door knockers of your product around off-campus apartments. Need a team to help with distribution? That’s where our support comes in >
While on-campus traffic has decreased, you can still take advantage of high-traffic locations on college campuses like dining halls, student centers, and the campus bookstore.
Many schools have taken advantage of this by leaving out care packages containing face masks and hand sanitizer, so placing samples of your products nearby can be a great alternative to sending them in the mail.
Generation Z are some of the highest users or social media, and these numbers are likely to increase as a result of more indoor time during coronavirus. Targeting college students with free product samples on social media can be a great way to get your product in their hands.
After you send them a sample of your product, students may post images and reviews of products to their social media, using hashtags and spreading the word to their followers. Beyond free marketing, other positive benefits include new and returning customers, and getting valuable feedback on whether your product is hitting the mark.
It’s important to include a call to action with an incentive like a coupon to drive sales both online and in-stores. 78% of students are motivated to buy after receiving a special offer or discount, so make sure to direct students to specific website pages where they can easily make a purchase.
It’s also critical to gather and consider customer feedback to measure the results of your efforts and whether or not people are enjoying your product. Invite your potential consumers to leave written or online feedback through a hashtag for social media, or link to a feedback page on your website.
Adding product sampling to your brand’s marketing campaign is a guaranteed way to increase sales and awareness of your brand.