Partnership Activation Tactics - What's Hot


Sampling is hot among marketers... there's no question about it. With the country facing troubling economic times, marketers are turning to sampling tactics to provide pinched consumers a freebie item that they can appreciate in a rather inexpensive manner (Ad Age 5.12.08). Funds for sampling programs, which have traditionally come from promotion budgets, are now being deposited from other accounts (i.e. traditional media, etc.).

With the advent of new technologies and messaging mediums, companies can now get the same impact from a sampling program as they would from a :30 national television spot... at a much lower cost. For example, Starbucks can generate hundreds of millions of free media impressions nearly every time it makes an offer or retrains its employees.

Why are sampling programs taking off?

1. The Economy (consumers are more cautious with their spending when there's less disposable income. Corporate marketers are hoping that a free sample will lead to an impulse to purchase)

2. They are an inexpensive means for having a one-to-one personal interaction with the consumer. Corporate marketers are now trying to enhance the quality of their impressions with consumers to drive a call to action.

3. Sampling research from Arcature has found that 80% of respondents would prefer a free sample to a coupon; 1/3 would be willing to come back and pay for something they taste and like

Who is sampling?

  • McDonalds is holding its largest sampling event this week to introduce its Southern-Style chicken biscuit and Southern-Style chicken sandwich. The nation's fast food retailer plans on distributing 8MM sandwiches with the purchase of a specified drink
  • Starbucks recently distributed coupons in newspapers offering a free cup of the brand's new blend every Wednesday through May and has launched a supplemental sampling program that allows consumers to try its different coffee varieties

Who is sampling in the sports space?

  • NOS Energy Drink plans on giving away 20,000 22-ounce bottles of its product at this weekend's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway - believed to be the largest consumer sampling program of ALL TIME.
  • McDonald's restaurants in WNBA markets will have POS ticket promos and players this Thursday and will make appearances in 10 league markets when the QSR "will give out millions of free samples of its new chicken products products as part of a national sampling day promotion." 

Source: Advertising Age - The New Mass Medium - May 13, 2008.