Month: April 2017

Wait, Product Sampling is how large a market?

Interesting note in today … first because it talks about and links to an interesting Unilever program worth checking out (more details here) and even more so for the statistics they quote from the ANA study undertaken with PQ Media.   As we now understand from seeing the study published the sampling market rose in 2016 by about 5% reaching $34.12 billion.   Further the breakdown is 25% of that in B2C and 75% in B2B.  Hmmmm … so the sampling market in total that I speak about most often is about $8.5 Billion.   I would then assume that the entire market labeled professional in our ecosystem represents B2B spending (which is technically true).

Perhaps I ought to take a more somber tone as these many billions are nothing to sneeze at …. then again no, for the business is still fun even with such high stakes and so I will continue to enjoy my learning, sharing and reporting.   For many practitioners I speak with these market estimates ‘feel’ elevated  – but it matters not.   Even sliced in half there is clearly a vibrant thriving sampling market and brands would be wise to think far more strategically about their sampling options than many do today.

P.S.  The Unilever Degree / DRYV tie in is based on significant research concerning millennials and their interesting clothing habits and to this human appears to be one of those classic win-win-win’s we all speak of but rarely actually achieve.  Good for the Brand (Degree), good for the “channel’ (DRYV) and actually good for the sampler too (those sad uninformed millennials, he says with tongue planted firmly in cheek).   I use that tone in part because the author’s commentary  somehow made me want to – in other words the brand channel article is a fun read as well as being informative and worthy of attention.

Posted by jlarryburns in Product Sampling, Product Sampling Ecosystem

Sampling is core to P&G growth plans … how about yours?

Sampling is our passion here at SamplingWorks and it’s gratifying when external validation comes via one of the recognized marketing leaders on the planet. I have written about P&G’s belief, via investment, in product sampling before and it was clearly present again in today’s Q3 2017 earnings call.  Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller, in his delivered remarks specifically called out sampling as a necessary investment to insure planned growth.   On the call today Jon mentioned some interesting statistics as part of the reason for expanding washing machine sampling efforts for Tide single unit (pods).  Today they only enjoy a 16% household penetration here in the US with that estimated to grow to 23% by year end (a 40% increase!).    The intelligent use of sampling programs that allow humans to try “Irresistibly Superior” products is understood as a worthy investment in growing P&G brands.    As an aside –  if you’d like a real world education on how a strong management team responds to muted growth, you ought to spend the hour listening to this call as it is a graduate level course in exactly that.  As well as evidence of good PR training on how to keep a straight face when an analyst refers to multi billion dollar savings and major sales force change announcements as “minor tweaks to the plans”

In fact back at the CAGNY meetings (2/23/17) during the P&G presentation to analysts one particular slide, as you might imagine did catch my eye. Clearly P&G’s internal knowledge drives their particular focus on Marking Points of Entry as key delivery moments for samples.    Looking back to December 2016 in coverage of another analyst call I found several comments from Mr. Moeller both heartening as well as enlightening for the sampling industry.   First, as quoted by Motley Fool on 12/16/16 he said “It’s really the area of spending that should be the last that we cut,Moeller said in October, “because of its importance in building users for potentially a lifetime of consumption.”   He also took the time to explain what one of the past sins of short term management (and a pet peeve of mine) had been. “Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller recently explained why P&G decided to boost its trial-program spending despite the low payoff in terms of immediate investment returns. Here’s how Moeller described the calculation: A consumer will take a period of time just to use the product that you’ve sampled them with. And so that’s not an investment endeavor that we typically see immediate returns in. That’s why, unfortunately, we got into a practice of reducing net spending because it was not producing, it {Sampling} never produces immediate short-term results.    Actually our industry can show some short term sampling programs that do “work” even in traditional pay out models but, the real magic of sampling as he clearly understands is to get humans into the brand franchise as an actual investment in brand health!

In even earlier reporting, on the Q4 2016 earnings call back in August of 2016, WCPO in Cincinnati offered us further sampling insight by quoting David S. Taylor, P&G’s Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, as he answered an analyst question  “Taylor responded that P&G is “very committed to get back above market growth, and we recognize that 2 percent is not market growth.” But the company is growing faster than that in product lines where it has reinvested cost savings in increased advertising, product sampling and innovations.”  So, at nearly every opportunity to speak about growth activities to market analysts, a key constituency for publically traded company executives, a choice has been made to speak about the value and long term contribution of sampling to brand growth.

P&G’s continuing vocal belief in sampling as a trial driver is not exactly new news, but the fact they chose to include in the P&G 2016 Annual report an entire page devoted to sampling speaks volumes.  While in the ‘Letter to Shareholders’ these statements were included: “We’ve been reinvesting these {advertising efficiency} savings in marketing programs that improve the reach, frequency or continuity of our advertising, and in programs such as product sampling that generate trial of our superior products.” And then later in the text making the point of how to insure continuing growth it was stated: “Growing users requires product superiority, broad media reach, advertising effectiveness, distinctive packaging, an easy-to-shop store shelf, sampling programs and consumer value. “

So, if one of the largest players in CPG/FMCG on the planet strongly believes in sampling – why are more brands not joining in?  Now before any of you answer ‘P&G is a special case’ or ‘P&G has huge budgets’ I freely grant to you that they are often the exception to many rules.   However, in this case when P&G speaks loudly and consistently recognizing the long term value of trial programs that use sampling; well then perhaps sampling does deserve to be an important part of every CPG marketers tool kit – period.

SamplingWorks goal in life is to educate, inform and offer solutions and brand building ideas to manufacturers both large and small.   So, as some folks I have worked with in my career might say “GET WITH THE PROGRAM” and figure out how you can unlock the magic of sampling for your brands in your unique market context.

People who know, really do know,  Sampling Works !!!!

Posted by jlarryburns in Press Releases & Coverage, Product Sampling, Product Sampling Ecosystem

“News” on Professional Drug Samples … disturbing in the abstract.

Keeping up with all things sampling brings into view places I might not normally visit. To find me, of my own free will, on a site that tracks “developments in the legal sphere” is unusual as is the case being referenced in this link. I did go to Law School for a semester last century and have a passing appreciation for the extreme parsing of language but, this is in fact a disturbing “potential” outcome. Certainly no sort of clear ruling nor anything to really react to today; yet my experience warns me that it would not take much for the normal risk aversion of corporate legal staffs to send a chill across the professional space if this leads anywhere.

The crux of the matter is a concern that …“the free samples could be “remuneration” under the AKS (Anti-Kickback Statute) because they provide physicians an opportunity to engage in “profit maximization.” … ” This logic, although not bizarre as legal reasoning can go, could open up a major uncertainty and the spectre of any “exposure” alone could impact the industry. My simple hope would be that just perhaps COMMON SENSE might prevail? Unfortunately, my continuing perspective suggests common sense is so rare these days it is almost like a super power. My bet would be this is simply part of the process and that concerns will turn out to be moot … but as we all understand – one never does know.

We’ll keep an eye on this – not seeking to panic / upset anyone but I am disturbed, in an abstract, theoretical kind of way.

Posted by jlarryburns in Product Sampling, Product Sampling - PROFESSIONAL

Product Experience as a unique “Marketing Bucket” ?

Sherry Orel’s latest post is a heart-felt suggestion that appeals to my own emotion surrounding how under appreciated the art and science of product sampling is! Product sampling is a different strategic tool in the marketing arsenal, it has unique qualities and as she points out “No other consumer promotion tactics need to work as hard as sampling in order to be successful.” To me that suggests that to truly tap the full power of product sampling and use it to your best advantage as a marketer you really need to step back and consider what is the absolute best approach for your brand and that requires both terrific creativity and solid execution. Frankly, that is why SamplingWorks has been launched. Though I might express certain ideas Sherry touches on in a slightly different manner we are singing, in harmony, from the same sheet music when she says, and I quote “Sampling is a proven, long-term, equity building tactic that is the most effective tool in the marketing mix to convince a consumer to buy your product.” and that my friends, I could not have said any better!

Product Sampling – The “Anti-promotion”

Posted by jlarryburns in Press Releases & Coverage, Product Sampling, Product Sampling Ecosystem