Customer engagement is quickly becoming the key to brand’s success in the B2C industry such as FMCG, travel etc. The benefits of great consumer engagement are apparent and valid for short and long term situations: amplified loyalty, advocacy, and better revenues as well as profits. Predominantly in the FMCG industry, one method to endorse the brand is that of Product Sampling- giving away free product samples to a tiny group of customers. Product samples are distributed at supermarkets, functions & events, or online on the website.
Benefits and Challenges
Below are 3 main benefits of distributing product samples:
- Making new customers acquainted with the product. Using Try before you Buy technique.
- Encouraging present customer base to keep using the product: The Loyalty technique.
- Improve sales. Customers who try the product are more likely to purchase. If they don’t then product might have some issue.
Below are 3 main challenges of distributing product samples:
- Sampling comes with big expenditure. The cost of product, event, shipping and support adds up to sampling campaign.
- The customer feedback cycle time is long and can take 2-3 months. The insight quality is also restricted.
- Customer engagement is transactional and restricted for that exercise. Though, by meaning, engagement should be something that keeps going over a period of time.
Need of the Hour: Digital Sampling
The business today is more and more focused on the digital customer and it is vital for businesses to interact and engage with customers using digital channel. Therefore conventional sampling should be replaced by digital sampling. Digital sampling IT platform should be used to run sampling campaigns.
Benefits of Digital Sampling Information Technology platform
- Decreased cycle time for Customer Feedback: As the brand now has feedback directly from the end customer instead of liable on a research agency, the cycle time for obtaining feedback can get decreased by 60% – 70%.
- Addressing the digital customer: Customers today invest more time on digital channels than on conventional mediums. To engage with such customers, businesses should go digital even for product sampling.
- Customer Insights: With the digital sampling method, feedback gathered from customers can be analyzed to gain important business insights. For instance, overall sentiment for newly launched product can be understood. Such insights can help the company to approach right customers, detect influencers and advocates, and obtain feedback for product enhancements.
Planning for Digital Sampling
Following approach can be taken for Digital Sampling
- Product choice and business goal definition: First, choose the product that you would like to give away as free samples, and your business goal for the same. For instance, a dipstick survey on upcoming product.
- Recognizing the target audience: Sampling as a marketing method is always planned for a particular target audience. Hence, it is vital to recognize the group of people you would like to give away the samples. E.g, target audience could be particular city, or particular age group or particular gender.
- IT Platform selection: Brands can take customized enterprise application development route for digital sampling or existing platforms can be used. Both ways, the IT platform’s main drive should be to engage customers in a two-way communication, gather feedback and transform that into actionable business insights.
- Implementation: This includes sending product to customers and answering consumer inquiries. Implementation could also be by way of an event, particularly for sample types where shipping may not be the correct choice.
As we move in the age of the digital customer, old-fashioned customer engagement methods should be replaced by digital customer engagement techniques. Direct marketing methods of product sampling should give way to digital sampling. The benefits of the digital method comprise considerably decreased cycle times for obtaining customer feedback on product, low cost and important customer insights which can help product marketing, design and development.