For retailers, the question is no game. While Price Chopper touts the benefits of operating an in-house program, most retailers prefer outsourcing their sampling. However, this is not the end of the decision-making process.
"The catch is that it has to be the 'right' third party," said Kit Moss, president of Kit Moss Productions, Northbrook, Ill. "The third party should be local because they will have a better understanding of the market, and can react quickly to the specific marketing needs of this highly volatile, competitive business."
There are several things to consider before converting, according to leading companies that have been in the business for decades. First of all, Moss said that retailers can save a lot of money. She listed these benefits:
Ethan Charas, senior vice president of Stratmar Systems, Port Chester, N.Y., said retailers need to consider several factors in addition to cost savings.
"A program can't just be whipped together," he said. "It's not turnkey." When interviewing prospects, he suggested retailers ask the following questions:
What kind of financial investment has been made in infrastructure to monitor such things as compliance and reporting?
Moss added that third-party firms should have a proven track record, be accessible and detail-oriented, and offer a solid field management infrastructure to support the volume of business.
"If the retailer approaches a third party to manage its demo program as a true partnership and the corporate culture of the third party meshes with that of the retailer, the program will be successful because both parties are aiming for the same results," she said. "This synergy of cooperation can only enhance the program."