PHOENIX — Wal-Mart incited a lift in sales of Easter cookies (260%), ham (1,000%) cakes (6,000%) and pineapples (245%) by distributing samples of the items as part of a program tied to a circular promotion. The retailer used the previous year, when the items weren't promoted, as a baseline, according to Terry Nannie, senior director of marketing for Wal-Mart.
"Sampling reduces negative new purchase experiences," he said here yesterday at the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Merchandising, Sales and Marketing Conference.
Helping Wal-Mart achieve those numbers were improvements sought after research revealed that noise and clutter were contributing to a stressful experience for its shoppers.
Sampling stations that amounted to a table manned by personnel subcontracted by a staffing company weren't helping matters. Because they didn't always show up, on-date execution rates were limited to 60% and some shoppers were reluctant to accept samples due to food safety concerns.
Today, Wal-Mart's sampling program is managed by Shopper Events, a result of the partnership between Advantage Sales and Marketing and Crossmark, Nannie said.
Personnel are hired via direct staffing, must be food safety certified, Internet competent and undergo extensive training. Wal-Mart's on-date execution rate is 98%.
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