How To Create The Ideal Food Sampling Experience

If you’ve never run a food sampling event before, you might think that it’s pretty simple to set one up. Get yourself a spot, set up a stand with some food and a roller banner, then wait for some people to come by and ask for food. But in reality, it’s much more complex than that.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into every single food sampling campaign we run, even if we have been working with that client for a long time. There are still stages we need to make sure we get right, because they can mean the difference between success and failure. So if you’re looking to run a food sampling event this year, here are some of our top tips for creating the ideal food sampling experience, first time around.

Know Your Audience

Know your product and who to sell to. Vegetarian produce isn’t currently attracting as much attention as sweets, so when we’re tasked with selling something that leans more into the health market, it’s important to know how much fat and how much sugar is in it. Focusing on health benefits is an important message, and shows you empathise with customers’ concerns. A sampling brief often consists of just the product name, the brand, the sample size and the main selling points. It’s up to the marketers to make these briefs more comprehensive and it’s up to brand ambassadors to use all of the information available to them to their advantage

Choose the Right Team

The people you choose to demonstrate your products and offer samples are almost as important as the product itself. These are the people who will be representing your brand to your customers, and who will be interacting, building loyalty and boosting sales. You want people who are reliable, trustworthy and conscientious, who can bring personality and life to your brand. The demo team need to be positive with a proactive attitude, an outgoing personality and a good appearance (tidy and clean) while being methodical and organised to keep the demo running smoothly. Some brands will choose in-house staff to take on this role, while others will hire skilled product-demonstrating companies like us to manage the experience for them. Whichever route you choose, do not underestimate how important the people you choose to run the event will be to its success.

 

Location, location, location!

The location you choose to set up a tasting station can have a big impact on the success of the campaign. Ideally, you want a spot that is visible and accessible, with easy access to the shelves where the products are displayed in the store. You will also need plenty of space for people to gather, as you may be dealing with large groups at any one time. If you’re a brand, knowing this can help you to negotiate a better spot with the retailer, and for retailers, it helps you understand where you can position demos to see the most success in-store.

Make sure you stand out

The appearance of your tasting station is very important. On top of looking hygienic and organised, you need to provide some collateral that will help the station stand out from the surroundings. People are drawn to things that look different, especially if they are a regular shopper, so the more eye-catching, the better.

Maximise Every Interaction

Food sampling needs to be run by staff who know and understand your brand. They have the chance to interact directly with customers and put across new messages. Make sure you’re maximising each interaction by talking to customers about more than just the product. For example, if you have an amazing piece around low emissions and being green, now is the time for you to talk about it. Create recipe cards that you can give out with the samples so that customers can see how the product would fit into their daily lives, and provide them with even more value. All of this allows you to promote your brand without being too ‘sales-ey’, and add some personality to your brand that might not come across on the shelf.

Mix It Up

Overexposure leads to indifference. If you keep sending the same samples out every week then the samplers are going to get sick of it and it’s going to lose its appeal to the consumers. There’s not much value in pushing a product that obviously isn’t selling. Instead, consider a different approach to the product – maybe pair it with something else or change the way you’re marketing it. Or cut your losses and move on to something else.

Know How to Gather Feedback

As we mentioned earlier, food sampling is a golden opportunity to gather customer feedback and anecdotal evidence. But to get the best results, you need to use the right approach. Avoid asking ‘yes’ or ‘no questions, and instead keep your questions simple and open-ended. Don’t jump on customers with questions right away either, give them a chance to explore and discover the product first. And finally, give them time to actively answer (instead of jumping in with another question) and actually listen to their answer.

Use Products That Work Together

If you’ve decided to offer samples of more than one product, make sure you’re using flavours and textures that work in harmony. There’s nothing worse than trying to sell two things that don’t belong together. Putting a strongly flavoured food with another strongly flavoured food, for example, is pointless – you’re just cancelling out the flavour. Partnered demos are a powerful tool for demonstrating product versatility. However, it’s vital that you get the pairings right, otherwise, it might lead to situations where the consumers are put off by one or the other. Strawberries and cream, are a classic pairing, but cheese and Tabasco – not so much.

Measure Your Success

As with any marketing activity, you need to be able to measure the results. There are a lot of ways you can do this, but some of the most common metrics we use include:

  • Traffic engagement (percentage of passing shoppers that stopped to taste the product)
  • Product engagement (how long a shopper spent at the tasting station)
  • Conversion rate (percentage of shoppers who tasted the product and ended up purchasing it)
  • The number of likes or comments on social media (if you are using social media to promote)
  • Sales uplift you experience

At Fizz, food sampling is in our blood. It’s what we’ve been doing for over 30 years, and we do it well. We offer a complete end-to-end experiential marketing service for food and drinks brands, providing all of the strategic thinking as well as the practical, boots on the ground work for your sampling experiences. We have the skills and knowledge to make sure the event is delivered to your high standards, and ours. If you’d like to know more about food sampling and how we go about it, give us a call today and book your free consultation.