How Can Offering In Store Sampling PULL Your Sales Forward In Stores?

How can offering in store sampling PULL your sales forward in stores?


Woo hoo! You got into retail – but now how will you get customers to see and buy your product off those store shelves?

Ideally, when you get into a new store you would be there to stand by your product and talk to every casual shopper so they would notice your product. But you can’t be everywhere at once. And you certainly cannot rely on retailers to push your product since they are busy with other tasks at checkout. How will you get more eyes and buys in retail?!

SOLUTION: A powerful solution can be offering samples in-store.

INTRO: Chris Ivey - VP of Strategy & Development at Dragon Spirits Marketing – a company that does in store tastings.

Q: What is a sampling and why does it help us sell product?

In store sampling means having a person in the aisles by your product to serve to customers food safe tastes, demonstrations or coupons of your product.

Q: How can offering a sampling PULL your sales forward in stores?

1. Exposure to consumers - Increases Emotional Attachment To Brand

Sampling is powerful because it is another touch point of interaction for store customers, employees and distributors (educates people). It takes 7 touches with a potential customer before they instantly recognize your brand.

This in person experience is MORE powerful than just seeing an advertisement or noticing it on the shelf. A brand ambassador can easily communicate A) emotions like enthusiasm and trust, B) education about your brand story AND give them a chance to experience it before they buy. Instantly people become more comfortable and aware of your brand in ways other methods can’t create.

People buy and remember what they engage actively with - touching, conversing, eating… results in memories. It’s just how our human brain works. This means when people taste your product, they will be more likely to remember it. When they talk to someone who is enthusiastic about your brand – they will be more likely to remember passionate feelings.

2. Educate retail employees & distributors – Create Brand Ambassadors Through the Supply Chain

Sampling also helps people who work at a store and distributorship become familiar with your product too. They are daily in front of your target customers so they can be the BEST sales people in store if they know about your brand.

Often people working in the store put inventory on shelf but since they haven’t tasted it themselves they can’t vouch for your quality to customers. They may not even remember it is there to refer people to it if someone specifically asks for it. By offering samples – you turn retailers and distributors into experienced potential ambassadors who can now promote and rave about it to other consumers in the future.

3. Creates leverage with retailers – Show You Will Help Retailers Succeed

Most brand owners DON’T realize that retail buyers are worried all of the time about selling the products they allow on their shelves. Your goal shouldn’t be to GET ONTO STORE SHELVES but to SELL OFF STORE SHELVES.

If you show your retailer you understand their needs and are willing to risk an investment in their customer base, you can increase the chance a buyer will take a chance on you back. This can also be a leverage point in negotiation allowing you to request a larger PO to support the higher anticipated sales.

Q: What does it takes to succeed in sampling?

1. Know Your Brand Story

People buy and remember emotional and inspiring stories AND great products. The fastest way into your customers heart and shopping cart is to have a clear brand. This doesn’t just include logos, fonts, colors and packaging artwork… it also includes your story, call outs and value to the end user and elevator pitch. Plus this story must be written down as a guide so it will be easy to educate and create ambassadors that will tell a consistent story.

2. Proper Inventory and Distribution to Refill Shelves

It’s crucial to do a focused demand plan when you get into a new store and invest in promos because product really can sell faster. The worse thing that could happen is you get customers excited and don’t have inventory to sell because it will waste money and time. You handle this by planning with your retailer and manufacturer in advance.

3. Great culture of tasting company you hire

Since a sampling company will be representing your product in stores you do NOT want a boring, unprofessional or rude person to be hired for instore sampling. It is crucial that the company you hire understands how to create a great culture among their sampling brand ambassador teams.

After great culture you also want to have a company that is sales focused (the job isn’t just to serve free samples but to educate to stimulate sales) AND data driven (able to create reports so you can prove efficacy to your retailer and control where you invest money).

4. Longevity of offering samples

Investing over a solid period of time is also the best way to reap rewards. People need to see a product a few different times to have their interest raised and the memory solidified. Especially when it’s very new. Your best plan will be for a solid few month so shoppers who come in once a week or 2x a month can see you and have many chances to try.

5. Start doing it yourself

When you start out your business – you are the best and most passionate brand ambassador. You will gain really valuable insight if you go into stores yourself to talk to customer. There is a powerhouse of information as you watch their reactions to food, packaging and hear their questions.

Plus you will learn quickly the amount of work it takes to do sampling so you can understand if it’s worth it to you to hire someone. There is a point where it will no longer be smart for you to do sampling – usually when sales have picked up enough that you should spend your time elsewhere making bigger sales pitches – that is the time to invest in hiring an agency to manage a team for you OR hire your own team if you don’t mind management. A good indicator is your existing budget for sampling staff and travel expenses. When it reaches $2,000 a month or more you will find value in outsourcing.


Samples will help you get attention and sales in stores. Over the long run it helps create meaningful brand awareness too. Retailers will LOVE and trust brands that invest in their customer base – they want your high sales too!

Often doing sampling makes sense for emerging brands and products to PULL sales forward.

QA: How can they contact you and why should they hire you guys?

This article was based on an interview with Chris Ivey, VP of Strategy & Development at Dragon Spirits Marketing. You can add him on LINKEDIN or email him at Dragon Spirits Marketing to see if this is the right fit to in-store sample your CPG food, beverage or spirits company.



Chris Ivey is VP of Strategy & Development at Dragon Spirits Marketing – a company that does in retail store tastings. He has consistently seen small emerging brands get into retail but not succeed in a crowded and competitive space like retail aisles. Sampling can allow consumers to experience your product and feel more open to buying it, faster than they would if they casually passed you by in the aisle.

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