Food & drink in-store sampling – the benefits to brands and retailers.

For our last blog, we took a detailed look at the health and beauty sector and the in-store customer experience. In particular, how it can help to drive sales and consumer awareness for new and established brands. This week, we explore the benefits to another of our key sectors of expertise; food and drink. For the last 30 years, we have worked extensively across brands in the sector – from smoothies and champagne to curries and crisps (so we know our onions, so to speak). Fizz has helped to deliver measurable benefits through in-store sampling experiences for countless brands. Our activity has also benefited retailers such as John Lewis, Whole Foods Market and Costco Wholesale to increase sales and provide an enjoyable experience for their customers.

If you are a brand or retailer in this sector, there are some important objectives that are key to success. We explore these and demonstrate how in-store experiences can be used to deliver important benefits to your brand.

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Brand objectives

To begin with, what are the common goals for brands within the retail environment in order to achieve success with retailers? We could list many but we believe there are four that are crucial for brands to make a success of retail listings:

  • Stand out from the competition. The sector is a hugely crowded marketplace – product USPs (unique selling points) must be clearly stated in order differentiate from others within the category.
  • Build the brand. Engaging consumers in-store can help break long-held consumer loyalties and break consumers of their buying habits.
  • Secure initial and repeat sales. FMCG goods live and die by their ability to not only win new customers but to keep these over a long period of time.
  • Communicate the product proposition. In-store activity forces brands to ‘keep it simple’ and is a good test of the quality of a brands’ proposition. If it can’t be clearly and easily explained in a few minutes the chances are the consumer won’t be able understand and will purchase an alternative product.

Retailer objectives

Whilst retailers have objectives that are unique to its business, there are objectives that are common for in-store experiences such as tasting events and product demonstrations. Each are dependent on the others to be successful:

  • Drive footfall. Increasing the number of shoppers into a store is the first step in growing sales.
  • Increase basket spend. Once a customer is in-store, it’s important to provide a depth of product range and choice that drives basket spend.
  • Deliver a better shopping experience. Consumers have never had greater choice in where and when to shop. Therefore, availability and price are no longer the only considerations; quality of shopping experience also matters.
  • Grow word of mouth. Success still relies on the oldest and most powerful marketing tool there is – word of mouth. Retailers need regular shoppers to recommend to friends and family in order to win increased footfall at competitors’ expense.

How does in-store sampling help?

Throughout our three decades of working alongside brands and retailers, we have witnessed the power of the in-store experience to meet these objectives. Events such as food tastings and product demonstrations achieve this through the following:

  • Encourages consumer trial. By literally taking the brand off the shelves and into the hands of shoppers, it enables shoppers to try new products. This, in turn, allows brands and retailers prove products against established brands.
  • Increases spend. In-store sampling has been proven to deliver sales uplifts of over 250% (which also delivers a measurable return on investment).
  • Influences future purchasing. Shoppers will often make future purchases of products sampled in-store, meaning sales continue after the activity has ended.
  • Consumers love to try before they buy. By delivering an improved shopping experience, retailers will grow footfall and win shopper preference.
  • Builds advocates and awareness.In-store sampling will drive consumers to share these experiences with friends and family. This drives vital word-of-mouth marketing.

The good news – our findings on in-store sampling

Keen to test our experience and observations, in 2017 we conducted a simple exit survey of shoppers at a retail client during a 4 day period of in-store sampling. We asked over 2,000 shoppers:

Findings from shopper exit survey re in-store sampling

The results speak for themselves. In-store sampling saw a majority participation rate (60%). Without it, the products being sampled were far less like to have been purchased without this first-hand experience (88% said they wouldn’t purchase without trying first). Not only this, the majority of participants (58%) were likely to share the experience through word-of-mouth. And for the large majority (87%) it made their shopping experience more enjoyable; increasing the likelihood of remaining a customer. Finally, most shoppers (95%) said that sampling encouraged them to try new products – hugely important for brands.

The conclusion? In-store sampling experiences are both influential and enjoyable for your customers.


FOOD & DRINK CASE STUDY: The Food Warehouse in-store sampling

Fizz was approached by Iceland Foods to deliver a fully managed in-store sampling service to support its new retail format, The Food Warehouse. The objective was to grow its sales while continuing to differentiate itself from both the core Iceland brand as well as defend its position against continued competition from other discount food multiples.

At a glance:

  • 11 locations
  • 40 week campaign
  • 1,059 sampling days
  • Fully managed in-store food sampling service.

Food sampling in The Food Warehouse


Food Warehouse client testimonialThe team at Fizz worked closely with colleagues at The Food Warehouse to make the campaign a success and ensure no negative operational impact on our clients’ employees. Our head office and field personnel paid close attention to every detail to deliver a team of skilled and qualified food sampling experts to deliver a service to meet and exceed the objectives set. Whilst we can’t share the specifics of our clients sales uplifts and incremental sales, the results delivered by the campaign were met with the following feedback from our client.


And remember, it’s not just food and drink we’re experienced in. Visit our case study pages for other examples across health, beauty, technology and more. For more information call 01306 644630 or email