Many multinationals use a sampling strategy to win market share. In the pandemic, consumers have minimised time in-store and increased online shopping. Consumers now prefer discovering new brands in the safety of their homes. In the latest Future of Media online discussion in partnership with Introducing!SA, Siya Sangweni hosted a panel of  omni-channel brand experts  that know a thing or two when it comes to connecting brands to consumers.

In this discussion, Sangweni points out that humans are sensory beings – we like to touch, feel, smell and hear. We like to turn products round in our hands, feel their weight and texture and interrogate them from all angles. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the shopping experience for consumers as avoiding crowds and remaining socially distanced has become paramount, never mind sampling and testing products before purchasing them.

Aqsa Qureshi, digital channel strategy manager at Introducing!SA gave us a bit more background about Caxton and their new focus at home sampling. “Local and global companies have had to innovate due to the safety concerns around sampling.” This was done because of the win-win consumer/ marketer relationship, where the consumer gets to sample something for free and the marketer becomes a considered purchase. Global research has shown that consumers are now more eager than ever to discover new products in their home, because of all the adverts they see online and on social media. With in-store sampling coming to a hault, the study carries on to say that the consumer is more likely to try samples if they are sent to their homes.

So, what makes this model so successful? Dejane Poil, head of retail marketing and innovation, at Introducing!SA pointed out that “Caxton Local Media delivers over 3 million newspapers each week via 120 titles.  We have a tried and tested distribution model, delivering a credible printed product to homes, to many communities within South Africa.” With a distribution chain that is highly effective and reliable and with the closing of their magazine division, there was a gap in the market for a Lifestyle Content Destination, as well as a sampling delivery mechanism.

Sangweni took it to a more practical level, he asked Jacqui Hansen, research strategist at Spark Media “How does Introducing!SA deliver a solution to me?”

She answered by breaking it down. She mentioned that they have two sampling solutions they offer, Mass Sampling and Premium Sampling, of which they are currently only focusing on Mass sampling.

“With mass sampling we start with the quantity needed, we then dive into the client’s target audience requirement, to do this we use our smart targeting process.” She carried on to say that the smart targeting process is a collaborative effort between them and the brands. “Brands can supply us with preferred profiles of which we can match to our existing database which we use to pull target profiles. We can accommodate campaigns targeting wide, mass audiences to the more specific audience.”

As Qureshi mentioned earlier, safety has been the biggest cornerstone for at home sampling, but “safe sampling” goes a bit deeper than this. Poil elaborated on this “When we say safe it’s threefold, 1) It’s the actual safety of the product, 2) It’s ticking the Covid safety compliancy box and 3) It’s return on investment for the client – so peace of mind for client that their product is safe hand.”

The question of ROI for the client was brought up Sangweni “How do you track and analyse if a campaign was successful?”

Hansen explains that their measures include physical distribution and a level of verification. “ This includes things like supervisor reports, ‘Mystery shopper’ photographers who do random spot checks, actual engagement with the sample and feedback from our readers and of course letters, email and social media posts and comments or pics.”

Sangweni wrapped up by asking whether the panel believed that in-home sampling would remain a thing or simply fade away as people are getting vaccinated and things are returning to “normal” again.

Qureshi concluded by saying, “Look I don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s also important to understand that we don’t know how long the vaccine will remain effective. They are already talking about the 4th wave hitting Nov/Dec 2021.” She backed up that statement by saying, “Regardless of what I’ve just mentioned, consumer behaviour has changed, the fact is that we have become very focused on hygiene and safety and although traditional sampling may start trickling back , in different formats, in-home sampling remains safe, hygienic, engaging and effective and I don’t see in-home sampling disappearing anytime soon.”

To watch the full discussion, click here