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Retail Merchandising's Secret Weapon: The Senses


For entrepreneurs and business owners today, there is a plethora of promotional tactics available to push sales and drive growth. While you may want to utilize every strategy available to you, it is important to remember that there are costs associated with each tactic, and to get the best return on investment, businesses should only use those tactics which are most effective. Deciding which promotional strategies work best for your product is tricky, but can be made easier through effective mobile data collection and in-store monitoring.

For those businesspeople who are selling a product which appeals to the senses, such as chocolate or skin cream, giving out samples is a proven way to drive sales.

Knowledge Networks PDI, an independent research firm, published a study which utilized frequent shopper data to determine the influence of product samples on consumers both the day of purchase and long after. The study, titled R.I.S.E. (Report on in-store sampling effectiveness) delivered remarkable results which reinforced the idea that sampling is an incredibly strong tool for acquiring new customers and quickly building short and long term sales.

Across multiple categories in-store sampling saw an average 475% increase in sales on the day of the sampling. While this short-term boost is incredible, it seems like it may not be a financially sound strategy for those products with high production costs, where the free sample costs may negate the boost in sales. That’s where the after-effect of sampling comes in to play. For new products, sampling saw 85% growth in first-time buyers of the product, and, perhaps most importantly, a 23% increase in sales over a 20 week period.

What about if the product line is already well-established? Sampling is even more effective in this scenario. Sales were boosted 177% for the day of sampling, and 57% after a 20 week period. The incredible effectiveness doesn’t stop there however. Samples for a new addition to an existing product line saw sales jump an incredible 919% the day of sampling and rise 109% over a 20 week period.

Despite its incredible efficiency, sampling should not be the only approach taken when promoting your product. It can however, be the focal point. Used in conjunction with other retail merchandising materials such as floor signs, posters, or in-store radio announcements, a sampling booth can become a way to sell directly to consumers, and to make them feel safe about purchasing a product they already know they like.

Before deciding if sampling is the right approach for your product, talk to retailers to determine if they allow sampling booths in store, and if they will charge an additional fee for the service. If the product is not yet sold through that retailer, bringing up the idea of sampling while at the negotiations table can be a great way to tell retailers you mean business. Establishing familiar terms with retailers and consumers is vital to getting your product on and off the right shelves. 


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Cam Garrant

Cam Garrant is the marketing manager at Repsly. Passionate about delivering quality content and data-driven insights, Cam's interests include SEO, basketball, and bad jokes.

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