Kate Burroughs our very own Senior Account Manager explores the idea that while sampling remains the best way to get a product into consumers’ hands - is it always the most effective path to their hearts?

Before I talk myself out of a job, let me first reiterate the reasons why brands should implement sampling campaigns… Sampling drives trial and ROI, helps support distribution, creates brand awareness and is an integral part of the marketing portfolio.

However it is worth looking at what experiential marketing can do for your brand too. Consumers today have so many choices; being bombarded with messages and mass communication from any number of brands each week. One way to ensure they buy and rebuy your product is to create an engaging and memorable brand experience which resonates with your target audience – not necessarily with a sample.

Let me illustrate my point with a case study…

Special K is a breakfast cereal that, based purely on taste, is no different from hundreds of other brands on the supermarket shelves. To really connect with their target audience, the brand is focusing on building a brand ideal that consumers identify with, rather than pushing a taste message via sampling. The brand is working to ensure consumers are buying Special K because of what it represents, rather than just its taste. They have identified a “problem” that their target audience (20-44 year old body conscious women) shares, and have positioned Special K as the solution to this.

Special K’s latest campaign uses a consumer experience as the foundation of their advertising. Consumers were asked to publically weigh themselves on a giant scale. Instead of their weight showing up for the world to see, a positive message is displayed in its place. These consumer experiences have been filmed and turned into TV and print ads, creating a truly integrated communication with the experiential element at its heart.

This is just one example of many highlighting how experiential marketing can be used to lead a whole marketing campaign. Another one you might all be familiar with is the Lynx Effect, where Angels appeared to fall from the sky at Victoria Station and interact with consumers.

This approach is not relevant for all brands all of the time. If your sole objective is to drive trial, a product focused sampling campaign will help you do this. But if you want to build brand advocacy and loyalty, you need to showcase a brand personality allowing consumers to associate with your brand’s values. Ultimately experiential marketing is a powerful tool to help make your brand’s legacy become a lasting one.

Check out the Special K campaign ad here

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