Often when I am interviewing manufacturers and marketers about the most successful way to get new products noticed sampling comes up. Offering consumers a taste of a food they are considering purchasing seems to be a foolproof way of getting the product into their shopping carts.
As an avid grocery shopper and restaurant patron myself, I can vouch that sampling works. If I eat it, there is a strong chance I am going to buy or order it.
Last week I attended the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s seminar and expo in Anaheim, California. In addition to meeting some fantastic people—was nice to finally put faces to names—and learning a ton about the industry, I tasted a lot of food. This is one of my favorite parts of my job with Grocery Headquarters (especially when cheese is involved).
I left there with not only a notebook of information for our readers, but also a personal list of items I want to stock in my refrigerator. What was it that drew me toward particular booths?
Lots of samples. If a company offers ten flavors of a product, I wanted to taste all ten. I liked to see them out on the table or to see someone standing there ready to help me. I had a lot to accomplish in the 2+ days I was there, so I appreciated when people were eager to share their pride and joy with me. Consumers are the same. They are busy: they want to shop, sample, pay and leave.
Clear information. I wanted to know what I was eating. I would occasionally wander by a booth and wonder, “What do they make?” If I couldn’t see the product or recognize what it was, there is a chance I walked right by. Sample stations need to stand out; they need to be featured as “the place to be.”
Smiles. Friendly faces in the exhibition booth sparked my interest to chat. The representatives who are passionate about their product couldn’t help but show their excitement. Employees should be knowledgeable and excited about what they are sampling—otherwise bring in someone from the manufacturer.
In the end, the products that made my personal shopping list were the ones that appealed to my taste buds and offered a positive tasting experience.
Retailers who don’t already conduct samplings must start. Whether its your in-house chef or you nab someone with a following, try to get creative. Shoppers want to try something new, learn as much as they can about it in as short of time as possible and see your excitement.
Feeding your shoppers has other advantages too. You are wetting their appetite… and we all know what happens when we go grocery shopping while we’re hungry. Ka-ching!
image: Me with one of the stars at IDDBA