When DowBrands designed its recent 4 million-piece to-home sampling program for its Smart Cleanser With Baking Soda and Smart Cleanser With Bleach, it settled on three-dimensional replica containers on a perforated card. The two formulations, one in blue and one in white, are positioned side by side. The company's research has shown that people have strong opinions about bleach, said Mary Elsner, brand manager for Smart Cleanser at DowBrands' facility in Indianapolis. "So it's important to give them both."
With nearly an ounce of each, there's enough of either product to clean a bathtub or large sink. Testing showed that consumers preferred the replica containers over foil packs. "When consumers see this, they want to try it right away," she said. Since it's shaped to look like the full-size package, it helps consumers recognize the cleanser's distinctive blue and white bottles and closures on store shelves. Elsner agreed that of all the techniques used to encourage consumers to buy a product, sampling is probably the most effective.
Said Elsner: "For new products, sampling is key." "It's the most effective means of converting a customer," added Myron Charness, president of Axiom Sales, Melville, N.Y., the marketing and sales representative for Minipack Sampling Solutions USA.
Unfortunately, sampling programs are neither simple nor inexpensive. Costs are significant unless the sample is sold as a trial size. Selecting the right package can be a challenge because the obvious choice, a downsized version of full-size, may not be available or cost-effective.
"Through the mail is very expensive," said Elsner, who noted that there are many restrictions and packaging must be extra durable. Her company selected National Home Delivery, New York, which uses newspaper carriers to deliver samples to carefully chosen targets.
The replica containers are formed from specially printed film, filled, sealed, labeled and attached to the printed cards by Minipack Sampling Solutions, Belle Mead, N.J.
owned by McCormick Packaging Group, a division of McCormick & Co., Sparks, Md. After importing its samplers for several years, McCormick bought the company in 1994 and established a U.S. production facility.
With 150 stockkeeping units and a modest advertising budget, generating trial is also important to McCormick. In its recent program for Montreal Steak Seasoning, the company distributed 0.4-ounce Minipack samples via direct mail and in-store displays.
Sales increased and surveys showed consumers found the samplers easy to open and almost universally appealing. A majority indicated they would likely purchase the full-size product.
Miniaturized full-size containers and small three-dimensional replicas are not the only sampler options available.