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

March 29th Whole Grains Sampling Day …

Did you know?    This past Wednesday was the sixth annual Whole Grains Sampling day a rather amazing integration of many different partners and supporters (here is the list  2017 WGSD Participants ).   The concept is to create opportunities to educate folks about Whole Grains, cook with Whole Grains (University dining halls certainly got on this band wagon) and of course sample products.    In fact the participant list includes 209 participants with a complete listing of what each was doing on the day complete with the ability to discover a simple map to help you find where all these events were taking place.   

What I find curious is an effort that has been growing; that now includes 62 universities, 19 manufacturers (some with fairly tepid engagement levels) still had "only" 18 supermarket players and frankly it appears to me only Shop Rite went "all in" & kudos to them.    There has been a lot of recent press about Whole Foods traffic declines and here is an event that would seem to be ideal for them to support and they did not choose to get involved.    This event is one of those really 'on trend' for changing eating habits and still?   Maybe it is because this event required some initiative from folks to "opt-in" to participate? Maybe because it was not a cookie cutter implementation that therefore required some creativity?   Or maybe it is just a classic example of  "I simply didn't know" and therefore no one 'owned' it in my organization.    Whatever it was perhaps next year will be different because now you know 

 I try not to be negative in my commentaries but I am surprised more industry folks did not take advantage .. oh well, there is always next year!

Posted by jlarryburns in Product Sampling, Product Sampling - EVENT, Product Sampling - LOCATION, Product Sampling- IN STORE, Published articles
Welcome to SamplingWorks!

Welcome to SamplingWorks!

SamplingWorks! (SW!) is an idea with roots in 2011 when I was running StartSampling, a product sampling company that helped define what online sample request sampling could be.   StartSampling launched 1999 and was the original successful online sampling entity.    The product sampling ecosystem changed dramatically over the years and in 2011 several sampling vendors came together to consider the concept of a platform to support the product sampling industry.    While that early effort stalled, here in 2017 the market needs an open platform to support product sampling even more!  The depth & breadth of choices a brand can make has only expanded and with product sampling ecosystem spending having crossed, at a minimum, 3 Billion in annual spending the need is great.

SW! has a very simple thought behind it – offer as much information about product sampling as a marketing tool to as many people as possible.  Our platform is meant to be inclusive and our intent is to be a positive force and among other things to:

  • Give voice to the industry; promoting the strategic value of product sampling
  • Maintain a robust industry directory providing direct access to vetted industry players
  • Craft & Publish general guides to help with:
    • choosing a sampling vendor
    • handling samples properly
    • research options to measure results
    • liability and insurance
    • recall protocols
    • & more as the community engages and needs are surfaced
  • Produce White Papers and positions on basic and topical issues
  • Outreach to the broader marketing and promotions industry
  • Monitor and report on Industry News
  • Tracking and regular reporting on the size, players, and innovations within the vibrant sampling industry
  • Participation (advocacy) within larger industry groups (BAA, WOMMA, AMA, P2Pi, etc.)
  • Operate with a self service approach to basic content and materials
Posted by jlarryburns in Product Sampling