Product Sampling Ecosystem

The product sampling ecosystem has grown in complexity and breadth to support brands desire to have their product tried and/or experienced by a potential buyer.   The variety in the market continues to expand driven by fragmenting and proliferating media channels, attention deficits making people ever more elusive, and frankly the creativity of suppliers, agencies, brands, and entrepreneurs.   

Over time we have seen attempts to define a structure for the sampling industry.   Yet, no comprehensive solution allowing all the varied and creative forms of sampling to fit within its foundation has yet been developed.    However, when we choose to look at the industry from the perspective of the human who is encountering a sample offer a potential structure emerges.   This suggested structure falls into 6 major categories:

Please note - examples listed are NOT exhaustive but offer highest use examples

In Home 

Digital  (e.g. Online Sample request)

Direct mail

     Marketing Platform


     Subscription boxes
     Catalog/ecommerce inserts - A fast growing segment
     Magazine inserts/overwrap

Door Hangers

Newspaper Bag

Event Based

Events – Flexible – “movable”  

     Community – Fairs, Festivals, local events
     Concerts  (local)
     Races & Runs (5K, 10K), Marathons, etc.
     Traveling RV’s/ Vans, etc.

Events - @ Venues   

     Concerts – Tours, major venues
     Sports /Stadium events
        College Sports: Bowl games. etc
        Pro Sports: PGA, MLB, NBA, NFL,  NHL, etc.
        Motor Sports: NASCAR, etc.


Social Based


Digital "sharing" (send to/order for a friend)

Influencer programs

Reviews driven

In Store




      Sampling in store

      Demo’s w/ Sampling    

      Events w/ Sampling


Location Based


     College / on Campus
     Day Care / Pre-School 
     School (via PTA/PTO) 


     Theme Parks ( 

Religious based - Houses of worship, groups, clubs, etc. 


     Doctor’s / Other practitioners – By specialty
     Fitness /Yoga/ /Dance, etc. 
     Kennels/Groomers/Pet Friendly businesses
     Salons / Spa / Barber
     Senior / Retirement centers 


     Hotel Venues

Workplace - reaching employee’s


 Delivery of Rx Medications / Medical Devices / Nutraceuticals and also OTC products.

Direct to Practitioner ("Non-Personal") Sampling

This category refers to controlled product samples provided to the professionals who then 'distribute' to their patients, clients, etc.   Given the nature of the products these services includes layers of authorization. special handling, support and the delivery processes take several forms.  Note: for non-controlled products, marketing materials, etc. certain vendors in the Location  based ecosystem category offer "practitioner" distribution as well.  

  • Request based (with proper confirmation/authorization) via Fax, Call Center, and/or online options
  • Auto Fill programs 
  • Delivery via Sales Representative 
  • "Starter Kits" - to both practitioners and pharmacies 
  • Vacant or White Space programs (to cover territories with no sales representative present)
  • While not "sampling" per se  - Trial incentives like Rebate and Co-Pay distribution might be provided as well