Sampling-does size really matter?

Sampling. It makes sense. A brand gives you a freebie, you try it, you like it, you buy it. However there are best practice ways to sample, there are ways to bring a sample and brand to life; there are different environments where you can sample as well as a whole range of ways to reach your target audience.

But what about the humble sample itself?!

Sometimes in our world of experiential marketing we can forget about what it is we actually give consumers – the product itself.

Often brands will automatically default to sampling full sized products rather than tasters – however after years of research into our client’s campaigns we now know that this is not always the best way to deliver results. Taster sampling is not only cheaper but also better at driving purchase.

While there is no easy answer to which is a better approach for individual brands; full product or taster sample – it does seem to depend on the objectives of your campaign.

1. Drive purchase

While it may be obvious that taster samples cost less than full product samples (an average difference of 55p per sample to be exact!) it’s not automatically obvious which will drive purchase. Of course with a cheaper taster sample you can reach many more people for less investment. However it is often assumed that a full product sample will give you a better ROI because the consumer is able to take the product away with them and gain the full experience.

According to our research (conducted by independent research agency 2CV) from a recent FMCG campaign this is not necessarily true:

14% of consumers who were sampled a full product went on to purchase at a cost of £1.14 per interaction.


22% of consumers who were sampled a taster for the same product went on to purchase, delivering a far more palatable £0.68 per interaction.

The increase in purchase and therefore more budget friendly cost per interaction is probably driven because a taster is just that – a teaser or preview. The consumer has to actually purchase the product to get the full impact. Taster samples also work incredibly well when coupled with money off coupon for this reason. When you sample a full bottle of soft drink, the consumers thirst is immediately quenched so there is no need for them to run to their nearest news agents to purchase.

2.Brand Awareness

Full product samples take up more space and as such hold a larger area for branding and key messages – they therefore command greater awareness from consumers. If the main aim of a sampling campaign is to increase visibility then full product samples would certainly be a way to achieve this. As consumers leave the stand or hit squads on mass they take with them the packaging and collateral giving the brand far greater visual awareness.

3.Target NEW consumers

Our research also suggests that taster samples are better at targeting new consumers. Because the brand is less visible when sampling taster samples, they do not attract as many existing customers. This means the product is hero and able to speak for itself, new customers can fall in love with the taste before being driven to purchase immediately with a coupon.

Taking everything into consideration I would conclude that yes, size does matter when it comes to sampling – however not in the way you would first think. It would a appear that less is more as taster samples generally cost less, are better at driving purchase and attracting new customers!