How effective sampling works for personal care category brands reached out to brands to know about some of the unique sampling techniques used to build their brand image and scale their business

Sakshi Sharma
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How effective sampling works for personal care category brands

Multiple brands have increasingly shifted their focus to effective sampling, especially personal care category brands, in order to build a better image and give consumers a taste of the options available to them. Brands have also started believing that sampling in the post-pandemic era will most likely be dominated by digital rather than in-store.

Why are brands increasing their focus on sampling and how does it benefit them?

Aakash Anand

According to Bella Vita Luxury’s Anand, brands today have to focus more on the consumer experience and the first step of that would be to give them a taste of the purchase they are about to make.

"Sampling not only lets the customers try the products but also gives them a sense of all the options available so that they can make the best choice as per their personality and taste," Anand added. 

He also went on to state that sampling also becomes an effective way to get feedback and make any changes in the product if required, based on mass recommendations. From the brand’s point of view, it generates awareness and increases the number of potential customers.

Isha Dhoble

Isha Dhoble, VP, Marketing and Strategy, Epigamia, believes that product sampling is the most incredible way to build an everlasting relationship with your customers.

"No matter how much you advertise the product, nothing can beat the old-school way of experiencing the product in person before buying it," she added

Swagata Sarangi

According to Swagata Sarangi, Co-founder, Smytten - the sampling platform, at present, the market is dynamic and to survive the competition, brands are leveraging sampling as it provides higher brand visibility, greater ROI and at the same time, provides their customers with a first-hand experience of the product.

"As an effective marketing strategy, sampling helps to create a pre-purchase connection between a consumer and the brand. With Smytten, brands can analyse the performance of any new product launch and feedback from customers, as well as target the right audience for the brand. Thus, sampling allows the brand to explore, retain and service the audience while engaging with them across the touchpoints," he added.

How well does sampling work for personal care category brands?

In view of Bella Vita Luxury's Anand, personal care and beauty are all about experience and finding out what fits a person the best. A perfume tried during sampling can leave a mark on the consumer if they like it and leads them to buy the same.

"Keeping this ideology in mind we at Bella Vita Luxury introduced the sample perfume campaign, wherein the consumers get a chance to try all the products from our range at a low cost and then pick the fragrance according to their choice," he added. 

Shivani Behl

Shivani Behl, Chief Marketing Officer, Plum, said that through sampling they get new customers to try the products and let them offerings speak for itself. Especially in skincare and haircare, this helps in convincing consumers of the product's efficacy and suitability, hence positively influencing their purchase decisions. In addition to new customer acquisition, sampling also helps in getting existing customers to try cross-category products. 

How many consumers convert to buying larger packs from small sample packs?

"As per a study, 35% to 40% of consumers who try the product during sampling, end up buying the larger pack in the same shopping trip. The study also found that for 24% consumers, the

products they had originally planned to buy got replaced in their mind after they tried something different," Bella Vita Luxury's Anand said. 

He also went on to state that modern-day consumers want to try before they buy and hence if they attend an event or receive a promotional sample, the chances are that for 65% of them the experience is elevated and they are more inclined to purchase the larger packs.

Striking a similar tone, Smytten’s Sarangi said that studies have shown that almost 40% of consumers' intent to purchase is driven by product sampling and trials.

“Our brand partners have seen spikes in sales post-sampling activations on the Smytten. We provide a double-digit conversion rate for most of the product categories,” he added.

Plum’s Behl stated that small sample packs aid consumers’ entry into new product categories. “Plum products have always been loved by our consumers owing to their quality and efficacy. Hence, we have seen a healthy ratio of consumers converting to buying larger packs and even trying other related products post-sampling activities,” she added.

Sampling techniques that worked well for your brand

Bella Vita Luxury works with partners like Smytten and Trykiya to drive sampling, Anand stated.

"Along with that, to push prepaid, we drive sampling on our own D2C which has led to absolute prepaid going up from 40%-57%," he added.

Epigamia's Dhoble said that the company started by partnering with fitness centres, yoga studios and gyms, and giving out free samples.

"Along with these partnerships, we participated in fitness events and worked with top dieticians. Once we understood our audience, we knew exactly who was making the household purchases and where they shopped for their groceries. We just had to ensure that our product was available in those stores. At the store, we continued to sample our product to generate trials and noticed that once consumers tried our products, they became our biggest cheerleaders. The extensive sampling helped us gain initial traction and brand awareness, which helped scale the business further," Dhoble added.

Smytten’s Sarangi said, “Our platform follows a systemic algorithm to match the right audience for any brand and its product ranges, thus driving consideration via targeted trials.”

“We have trend-specific incentives apart from the exciting curations on the app. We follow a pull sampling strategy wherein the customer can pick what they would like to try from the app and we deliver a box with samples of his/her choice to their doorstep. Another technique that works best for us is advanced targeted sampling, in which we recognise and tailor the feed for the end consumers while meeting the direct audience for the brands. This also eliminates the scattered efforts and database for the specific brands and promotes re-engagement for customers,” Sarangi stated.

According to Plum’s Behl, they have tried multiple techniques such as event sampling, targeted sampling through geographic and demographic filters, collaborative sampling with other brands with shared synergies and online sampling. 

“Since online sampling offers better feasibility of tracking attributable success, we have seen some healthy ratios in online sampling done across marketplace platforms and those done in collaborations with other brands,” Behl added.

With so many brands doing sampling online, do you think digital will dominate sampling moving forward?

Bella Vita Luxury's Anand said, "Yes, that’s quite possible as it drives new acquisition and higher LTV (Lifetime Value). Experts say that the new normal will be far more technologically driven and hence sampling in the post-COVID-19 era will most likely be dominated by digital rather than in-store."

According to Epigamia's Dhoble, sampling through digital channels picked up during Covid-19 and it looks like it is here to stay. Many consumers discover new products online while browsing and also through sample packs received with their orders. 

"The digital sampling channel is more customisable as compared to offline because of the customer information available with the platform. This facilitates better customer experience and more targeted brand outreach," Dhoble added.

As per Smytten’s Sarangi, in 2023 one can expect digital sampling to continue dominating. It helps the brands to directly engage with their potential consumers. They are now looking for more value-for-money products and consciously want to identify the right and the best product in a huge bucket of options. This provides ample opportunities for digital-first brands.

“Brands are now investing more in digital sampling as a way to acquire new users, as it provides ample ways to re-engage with the users across various touchpoints to drive conversions,” Sarangi added. 

Plum’s Behl added, “Online sampling offers the added advantage of improved tracking accuracy and more defined targeting owing to the availability of digital customer personas/order history as compared to physical sampling. Hence, certainly, we see great potential for online sampling which will be further augmented by the rising number of online buyers.”

Why do many consumers prefer buying sample packages instead of larger packs?

Bella Vita Luxury's Anand said that a consumer will buy a product based on their affordability and small packages are far more affordable than larger ones. They give an opportunity to every consumer to taste or use the product and build their trust, likes and desires accordingly.

"The biggest draw towards these products is that they can be carried with ease and are travel-friendly and convenient. They also attract the price-sensitive section of society, mostly the youth. Overall, they redefine affordability and the consumer experience. Samples are also trial inducers, which is a great benefit for the brands and the customers," Anand added.

On the other hand, Epigamia's Dhoble said that it ultimately depends on the product's utility. 

"Our regular SKUs are perfect for one-time on-the-go consumption, but we also sell bulk packs. When it comes to our consumers, loyalists keep requesting bulk packs because of their daily consumption needs, but the same consumer also consumes our smaller SKUs while commuting to work," she added.

Meanwhile, Smytten’s Sarangi stated that nowadays, customers have multifarious product categories to choose from. Thus, opting for a sample package makes it easy for the customer to experience and try different product ranges before investing in actual-size products.

As per Plum’s Behl, owing to ever-changing trends, consumers do not wish to be married to one product for too long and hence are constantly seeking variety. Consumers of today are a lot more open to experimentation and trying new products with different ingredients/formulations. Hence, they like exploring multiple brands and product formats over time and smaller packs offer accessible pricing reducing the entry barrier in such cases.  

Growth for brands indulging actively in sampling 

"Effective sampling has the potential to strengthen the brand. It helps consumers understand how effectively the product will meet their needs and this sense of comfort in turn leads to the growth of the brand," Bella Vita Luxury's Anand said.

In the views of Anand, the brand stands out if the sampling is done in an effective manner and encourages brand loyalty which are all positive signs of growth.

As per Smytten’s Sarangi, by taking a D2C approach, brands are drastically able to reduce their sampling pilferage, operational challenges and customer acquisition costs. All data-driven sampling activations on Smytten come with advanced targeting options, re-engagement campaigns and performance/feedback reporting. 

“Smytten has helped brands like Pilgrim and Plum, amongst others, in reaching their target audience through data-driven insights, product sampling and thoughtfully crafted marketing campaigns individualistic to the brand, helping them capture the right market share in the industry,” Sarangi added.

According to Plum’s Behl, “Sampling helps induce effortless trials and hence is a great way to acquire new customers, enter their purchase journey and have the influence propagated through word of mouth. Targeted sampling offers a good way to reach relevant audiences resulting in higher chances of conversion in addition to building brand awareness and reducing the entry barrier through accessible pricing.”

Epigamia Swagata Sarangi Smytten Plum Isha Dhoble Shivani Behl Sampling Bella Vita Luxury product sampling Aakash Anand