In recent years we’ve seen the birth of a new festive tradition: the battle of the Christmas adverts.
Brands pull out all the stops to make us cry, laugh and outshine their competitors and, as viewers, we enjoy judging their efforts. In this Christmas advert excitement, it’s easy to believe that TV campaigns are the pinnacle of marketing.
But although such traditional methods still have their uses and can be very effective, new marketing tactics have emerged that can engage customers in unprecedented ways and help brands forge a deeper relationship with consumers. And businesses can’t afford to ignore them if they want to maintain their competitive edge.
One such strategy is e-sampling and it offers many benefits to brands and agencies that traditional marketing methods can’t.
Let’s explore why and see how brands can make the most of this new approach.
Product sampling has a long history, particularly in the beauty industry.
There are strong psychological arguments for it: a free sample takes away risk for a customer as they can experience a product before choosing to commit to buying a full-size version, removing the risk that they’ll waste their money on something they don’t like.
There’s an especially big risk associated with buying cosmetics as not only are products typically more expensive than with food and beverage, for example, there’s a higher potential for wasted product. You might finish a drink you don’t particularly love but you couldn’t keep using a cream that irritated your skin.
Then there’s the reciprocity instinct. Product sampling leads to higher sales because it activates our instinct to reward someone who gives us something or does something positive for us.
For instance, if someone gets you a gift, or gives you a compliment, you’ll feel compelled to do the same for them. Similarly, when a brand gives consumers a free sample, the reciprocity instinct leads them to reward this ‘positive’ action by buying their product.
Product sampling allows a consumer to physically experience a product, connecting them to a product and a brand in a way a TV ad or Instagram post simply can’t. But the development of technology takes this connection one step further.
E-sampling - using technology to provide consumers with product samples rather than needing an in-store salesperson - makes it easy for brands to learn more about consumers as a questionnaire can be incorporated into the sample claiming process.
This means brands can collect important data about the tastes and preferences of their customers, which they can use in product development and future marketing campaigns, and also ensures the right products get into the hands of the right consumers, increasing the likelihood of a sale.
This combination of hyper-targeting with e-sampling allows brands to build a more meaningful relationship with consumers, growing brand loyalty as customers feel a business uniquely cares about their needs.
The benefits of combining e-sampling with customer surveying is illustrated in our work with Tata Harper. We helped the brand launch their Superkind collection which led consumers to a sample via an online questionnaire.
Through this strategy they gained valuable customer insights: for example, learning that 87% of respondents used moisturiser daily, 61% were worried about ageing skin and 46% were worried about lack of skin glow. These insights can now help Tata Harper with their formulation, packaging, marketing and re-marketing, driving sales by delivering and demonstrating they know what customers really want.
Additionally, e-sampling allows brands to adapt to the boom in e-commerce, accelerated by the pandemic. As the world grows ever-more digital, businesses who don’t also evolve their processes will get left behind.
E-sampling is an incredibly effective marketing strategy but it still requires careful thought. Consumers will judge a brand based on their sampling process and if it isn’t seamless, or they get a product unsuited to their needs, a brand reputation will decrease.
This is where tech like a product sampling platform comes in. A platform like Odore helps brands take complete charge of the sampling process, from designing the campaign to dispatching samples and collecting feedback.
Odore’s campaign builder helps brands recommend the right products to consumers and our international network of fulfilment centres means samples arrive safely and on time - all tracked through Odore.
One of Odore’s key features is following up with customers and gathering feedback, which is an essential part of any e-sampling campaign.
Getting consumers to try a product and hopefully buy it is one thing, but sampling can also provide incredibly valuable insights about what works - and what doesn’t. If brands can collect these, they can drive sales by adapting their future marketing and even adjusting their products to better suit consumer needs.
E-sampling wins out over traditional marketing when it comes to engaging customers and forging deeper, more meaningful relationships.
But, of course, it doesn’t automatically make traditional marketing tactics obsolete. In fact, e-sampling and traditional marketing can work symbiotically: adverts can be used to encourage consumers to claim a sample, so brands can enjoy the benefits of both tactics.
It’s not time to turn off the TV but it is time to think about what’s coming through the door.
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